The man responsible for terrorizing Austin over the past few weeks with a series of bombs is finally dead, police say.
Police were trying to arrest the man early Wednesday morning when he allegedly killed himself with an explosive device inside his own car as he fled from authorities, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at an early-morning press conference.
The Texas Rangers and local departments will investigate the night’s incidents to ensure that they were appropriate, Manley added.
“We don’t know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we need to remain vigilant to be sure no other packages have been left throughout the community,” Manley said.
Police have not yet publicly identified the suspect but said he was a 24-year-old white male. His motive is still unclear.
The man was killed after authorities reportedly tracked him down using information gleaned from the FedEx package bombs he sent, one of which detonated in a facility near San Antonio early Tuesday morning.
Evidence at a FedEx store in southwest Austin contained security footage of the man and store receipts obtained by a search warrant showing “suspicious” transactions, the Austin American-Statesman reported. His Google search history also allegedly showed he was looking for information on where to go to ship the devices. Using cellphone technology, authorities reportedly traced him to a hotel in Williamson County, just outside of Austin.
“FBI, Austin police tracked him down and engaged him in Round Rock within the last hour, according to state law enforcement officials,” wrote Jason Whitely, from WFAA-TV, about 3 a.m. local time. ”A device detonated—which they expected when they pursued him. Then shots.”
The Texas capital has been on edge since the first explosion on March 2 killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, who opened a package that police say had been hand-delivered to his front porch. Ten days later, 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed and his mother was seriously injured by another package bomb, also delivered to their doorstep. Hours later, a 75-year-old woman was wounded when she opened a similar package at her own home.
The fourth bomb on Sunday wounded two men in their early twenties who were walking on a residential street in southwest Austin. In that case, the bomber used a tripwire detonator anchored by a yard sign.
Experts told The Daily Beast that the bomber had—with the use of the tripwire—displayed a higher level of skill and sophistication than previously believed.
On Tuesday, a package explosion at a FedEx facility outside of San Antonio was linked to the other cases, and the company later said the “individual responsible” for the facility explosion “also shipped a second package that has now been secured and turned over to law enforcement.” That package was discovered at a FedEx building in south Austin before it had detonated.
Former ATF agent Malcolm Brady told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that the bomber’s “success” over the past several days was not an accident.
“He’s a smart man that can put these devices together and not kill himself,” said Brady. “Obviously he’s been reading.”
Brady, who supervised the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case, added: “They may get a little more sophisticated, but with any luck, he’ll blow himself up.”
Chief Manley added Wednesday, “This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community.”