Austin serial bombing suspect killed in dramatic confrontation; ID’d as 24-year-old man
The suspected serial bomber who killed two people and terrorized Austin, Texas, for three harrowing weeks was killed in a dramatic confrontation with police overnight Wednesday, authorities said.
The suspect, identified by police early Wednesday as a 24-year old male, was killed near the motel he was traced to by authorities using surveillance footage from a Federal Express drop-off store and cell phone triangulation technology, according to The Austin American-Statesman.
The man, whose name was not released, died after fleeing the motel in a car, with police hot on his tail. He drove into a ditch, sparking the fatal confrontation.
“We wanted this to come to a peaceful resolution tonight,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. “However, we were not afforded that opportunity when he started to drive away.”
Police said the man detonated two package bombs as police closed in, firing at him. It was not immediately clear whether he died from the bombs or shots fired by police. One officer was knocked back by the blasts, but none were seriously hurt.
Manley said police had zeroed in on a “person of interest” over the last 24-36 hours, tracing him to the motel in Round Rock, where they spotted his vehicle. The suspect is believed to be from the Pflugerville area, located near the site of the showdown with cops in Round Rock, FOX7 reported.
“Late last night and early this morning, we felt very confident this was the suspect in bombings throughout Austin,” Manley said.
As police took up positions around the motel and waited for tactical units to arrive, the suspect bolted, Manley said.
Police followed the vehicle, and, when it went off the road, SWAT team officers moved in.
“The suspect is deceased with significant injuries,” Manley said, adding that he has not yet been positively identified by the medical examiner.
Manley also warned more package bombs could be out there.
“We don’t know where he has been in the past 24 hours,” Manley said. “If you see something that looks suspicious, see something out of place, see something that gives you concern, call 911.”
President Trump reacted to the news early Wednesday morning, tweeting, “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”
Witnesses to the confrontation told FOX7 there was a bomb robot used by law enforcement, but they didn’t hear any explosion.
“There was no smoke coming out of the cars,” an unidentified witness told FOX7.
The incident appears to have brought to an end a terrifying sequence that began March 2, when Anthony Steven House, 39, was killed when a package he discovered on his porch in northeast Austin exploded.
Ten days later, a second “porch bomb” exploded nearby, killing 17-year-old Draylen Mason and injuring his mother. A third bomb went off on March 12, injuring Esperanza Herrera, 75, and police quickly determined all three were connected.
As the Texas capital’s residents sought answers, developments took a frightening turn March 18, when two men were injured by a bomb that was set off by a sophisticated “trip wire” made of fishing string. That bomb, along with the accelerated pattern of attacks, spurred fears authorities were hunting a highly trained maniac.
Just after midnight on March 19, a packaged destined for Austin exploded at a FedEx delivery facility in Schertz, some 65 miles south of Austin. That package had been sent from Austin, and police were able to track it to the drop-off store where they obtained surveillance video.
Also Tuesday, the FBI said a suspicious package reported at a FedEx distribution center near the Austin airport “contained an explosive device.” The two packages were sent from a mail delivery office in Sunset Valley, an Austin suburb south of downtown.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun, Maggie Kerkman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.