Audio recording he made for police includes a haunting revelation about himself
By Staff and Wire Reports
AUSTIN, Texas — The man who killed two people and wounded five others with a series of bomb attacks in the Austin area left an audio recording for police that includes a haunting revelation about himself.
“I wish I were sorry but I am not,” Mark Conditt said in the cellphone recording, according to sources familiar with his statements. He described himself as a “psychopath” and said he feels as though he has been disturbed since childhood.
Conditt also promised that he would go inside a crowded McDonald’s to blow himself up if he thought authorities were closing in on him, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the contents of the audio. The sources declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak about the recording, which police are using as evidence in the case.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed the existence of the audio in a news conference Wednesday, but provided limited details about its specifics. He called it a “confession.”
Police say Conditt, 23, detonated a bomb inside his car as officers closed in on him along Interstate 35. He had a laptop computer with him that was destroyed in the blast, but officials say they think it may have contained other recordings.
According to the sources, he began his 28-minute statement, which was recorded after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, saying “it’s me again” and blamed himself for helping investigators find him by going into a FedEx store on in Sunset Valley to mail two explosive devices, one of which blew up at a transfer facility in Schertz.
That decision, Conditt realized, allowed him to be captured on video cameras inside the store and for outside cameras to snap photographs of his license plate, which authorities used to learn his identity.
Conditt also acknowledged that he recognized his actions left family members without loved ones, and caused permanent injuries to other victims, including an elderly woman, but said little else about them.
The sources also repeated what Manley said at the news conference: That Conditt gave no hint about how or why he chose the targets of the bomb attacks.
Meanwhile, investigators on Thursday finished questioning Conditt’s second roommate, but a more complete picture of Conditt, a 23-year-old community college dropout, remains elusive.
Police said they’d released the second of two people who shared a home in Pflugerville, just north of Austin, with Conditt. The other roommate was taken into custody Wednesday and released hours later. Investigators haven’t named them, saying they weren’t under arrest.
Conditt made a 25-minute cellphone recording before his death. It was recovered Wednesday, after he detonated one of his own bombs along the side of Interstate 35 just outside of Austin as a SWAT team moved in.
Conditt built bombs planted in different parts of the city that killed two people and severely wounded four others over three weeks starting on March 2. He began by placing explosives in packages left overnight on doorsteps, then rigged an explosive to a tripwire along a public trail. Finally, he sent two parcels with bombs via FedEx.
All of the early victims were black or Hispanic, though the tripwire bomb injured two white men.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler praised police officers for stopping Conditt’s sport utility vehicle before he could get onto the highway, even though they were aware he likely had explosive devices inside and they did not have as much backup as planned.
“We hear about folks who run into danger to keep us safe and we had one of those moments in very graphic and specific detail,” Adler said at a news conference Thursday.
NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder said the manhunt’s end was a relief but that the public needs answers on what motivated Conditt, including whether the first two victims were targeted because they are from prominent black families.
“I don’t think it’s random at this point,” Linder said. “We’re going to withhold our judgment and keep searching for information and why he killed those people.”
Investigators have released few details about Conditt, who was unemployed, home-schooled and attended Austin Community College until 2012 but didn’t graduate.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday that a bomb Conditt made and shipped via FedEx had been addressed to an employee at a downtown Austin spa. It was intercepted at a processing center without exploding.
Anita Ward works at Austin Med Spa and says that police and federal agents told her that her daughter, who also works there, was meant to be the recipient of the unexploded package.
Ward declined to name her daughter, who she said doesn’t know Conditt. Police haven’t commented.