AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department teamed up with the Northwest Austin Coalition to provide more information on the Austin bombings during a town hall meeting.
The focus of the meeting was how neighbors can help each other to make the community safer.
Each community will process the Austin bombing cases differently. That is the message city leaders wanted to get across at Monday’s town hall meeting, but there are also still things everyone in the room wanted to know.
“Everybody wants a motive, right? We all want to understand why would somebody do something like this because it just doesn’t make sense. We want to know too and we just don’t have anything right now,” said Austin Police Interim Chief Brian Manley.
It has been less than a week since federal and local authorities identified a suspect responsible for a string of bombings that killed two people and injured four others.
APD is still looking into what mistakes were made and what could’ve been handled differently. More specifically, Manley said when APD changed the classification of victim Anthony House’s death from homicide to suspicious death they made a comment that was uncalled for.
“A member of our team went out there and reclassified it as suspicious and a comment along the lines of, ‘We couldn’t rule out that he wasn’t the bomb maker and the bomb exploded on him.’ That’s wrong, absolutely wrong. He had an eight-year-old daughter, and that was the conversation I had with the team so we could all learn from this,” Manley said.
Once a second and third bomb went off, House’s death was once again classified as a homicide.
About twenty days after the first explosion, police had gathered enough surveillance video and evidence to make a move.
“Everyone had that collective moment of this is our suspect and we knew it,” said Manley.
The suspect police identified was 23-year old Mark Anthony Conditt.
Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Michael McCaul, spoke about a confession video filmed on Conditt’s cellphone the same night he took his life with one of his own bombs.
“25 minute video. Shows absolutely no remorse for what he did, killing these innocent victims and wounding so many more others. He said, ‘I wish I were sorry, but I’m not.’ He refers to himself as a psychopath and, ‘I’ve been a sociopath all my life,’ and then maybe even more chilling, at the end he says, ‘Maybe I should just blow myself up in a McDonalds,’” McCaul explained.
Conditt did not blow himself up at a McDonalds, instead doing so in his car as the SWAT team closed in.
McCaul also said one of Conditt’s roommates is still considered a person of interest, although not a suspect at this time.
“Now, he did have two roommates who were detained. One is still being questioned. If you have knowledge of someone doing something like this, making bombs and bombing the community and terrorizing the community, you have an obligation, a duty to report that. If not, you have knowledge and you’re complicit with the conspiracy,” said McCaul.
Austin City Councilman Jimmy Flannigan, District 6, said he hopes one good thing will come out of this traumatic situation, neighbors looking out for one another.
“Getting to know your neighbors is a key part of keeping our community safe. There’s only so much you can do with having patrol cars driving around your neighborhood. We have to take control over the safety of our own communities,” Flannigan said.
Manley did not confirm whether Conditt’s roommate is a person of interest. He said they are still questioning people, but, because this is an active investigation, he could not go into further detail.