Bombing Suspect's Death 'An Absolute Relief,' Austin Mayor Says
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We are covering breaking news out of Austin, Texas, this morning. Police there say the person suspected of carrying out a string of deadly package bombings is dead. He has been identified as 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt. Austin's police chief says the suspect died after a chase and standoff with police officers.
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BRIAN MANLEY: As members of the Austin Police Department's SWAT team approached the vehicle, the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back. And one of our SWAT officers fired at the suspect as well. The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle.
MARTIN: That's the voice of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. The Texas capital has been targeted by a series of package bombings dating back to March 2, which left two people dead and four others seriously wounded. For more on what has been happening in Austin, we are joined now by the mayor of that city, Steve Adler. Mayor Adler, thanks so much for being with us.
STEVE ADLER: Absolutely.
MARTIN: How did...
ADLER: Good morning.
MARTIN: ...How did you get this news? Who told you?
ADLER: Well, I've been following the developments with our police chief and with the city manager. It was the city manager that called me...
MARTIN: And what did you...
ADLER: ...As the events were unfolding.
MARTIN: ...How did you receive that news? It - I imagine it was a relief, some relief?
ADLER: Well, it's been an absolute relief. You know, as these incidents have been occurring with increasing frequency, the anxiety and fear in the community's been growing. So it was good to be closing in over the last day or so and to have this resolution.
MARTIN: What is your understanding of how police were able to track the suspect down?
ADLER: Well, I think that the details of that is - you're going to need to get it from the police chief. You know, the investigation is still continuing. So we're still holding some of the details. At this point, we're still asking folks in our community to remain vigilant. We don't know where the suspect was over the last 24 hours, so we still need people to be aware of things around them that are suspicious or seem like they might be out of place.
MARTIN: Can you give us a sense of the conversations that you've been having with your constituents as everyone has been dealing with the anxiety of this? Because you just didn't know if it was one bomber, if it was multiple bombers. You didn't know a motive - still don't.
ADLER: You know, there were a lot of outstanding questions. And there are still outstanding questions. You know, there was anxiety in the community and fear in the community, and those were legitimate feelings to have. As a community, we tried to pull together to try and focus on having each other's back by noticing things around us that were suspicious, by calling into law enforcement if anything seemed - that was out of place. And I think as the facts come out here over the next few days, the community's going to see that that, in fact, was something that was helpful and part of this resolution.
MARTIN: What questions do you have? Besides the obvious, why, what specific questions do you have?
ADLER: Well, I think, you know, at this point, the questions we have are making sure that there are not any other bombs that are placed or out. We want to make sure that we answer the question as to, do we have everybody that's involved? And certainly the why question.
MARTIN: So you don't know...
ADLER: You know, one of the interesting things...
MARTIN: Go ahead.
ADLER: I was going to say that - but we don't know at this point the answers to those questions. That's why the investigation continues. And hopefully they can run to ground those things. You know, another thing that came out of the community was the realization, as I was in communities or at town hall meetings, we don't know the neighbors around us as well as we should. And my hope is that one of the legacies of this moment is that we all walk across the street or down the street or across the hall and get to know the people around us in ways we don't know.
MARTIN: The mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler, this morning. Thanks so much.
ADLER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.