Austin, Texas authorities say the suspect in the package bombings in Austin is dead. Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters early this morning the 24-year-old male detonated a device in his vehicle after being pursued by police early today.
Manley said authorities don’t know why the man, who was white, engaged in the bombings. He said the suspect’s identify wouldn’t be released until the medical examiner confirmed it and his next of kin are notified.
Tips on the suspect had been pouring in over the last 24 to 36 hours, according to Manley. Once investigators were satisfied they’d determined who the bomber was, surveillance teams began looking for him and spotted a vehicle he was known to be driving at a hotel in the Austin suburb of Round Rock.
While police and federal agents were in position around the hotel, the suspect started driving away. Law enforcement followed. The vehicle then stopped in a ditch on the side of a road.
At that point, Manley continued, as an Austin police SWAT team closed in, the suspect fired at them, then detonated a device in vehicle. One SWAT team member was knocked back from the blast as he approached the vehicle and suffered minor injuries, Manley said.
The officer who fired the shot was placed on administrative leave while the department looks into the shooting. Manley says the incident that led to the suspect’s death will be investigated by Austin Police and the Texas Rangers.
Authorities think the suspect was behind all the bombings in Austin this month but FBI agent Chris Combs, head of the bureaus San Antonio office, says, “We are concerned that there may be other packages that are still out there.” People in Austin are being urged to remain vigilant, since it’s not known if any other devices were planted.
It wasn’t clear whether the suspect intended to plant the device he used to kill himself, authorities added.
The five connected explosions killed two people and injured six others. They began on March 2, 2018.
Earlier, EYE said it had obtained photos of the person investigators believe dropped off two suspicious packages Sunday. Investigators said he was a person of interest and that the two packages were connected to the string of explosions in the Texas capital.
The U.S. Marshal’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force Austin Division gathered the video and helped the lead agencies in the investigation get an idea where the person of interest might have been.
The pictures were from surveillance video taken inside a South Austin FedEx Office store, where the person shipped the two packages. One of the two packages exploded on a conveyor belt at a FedEx sorting facility outside San Antonio, in Schertz. The second package was intercepted at a facility near the Austin airport.
The second suspicious package was being treated as if it could be a bomb, according to Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office. Both packages originated from the same location.
The photos show the person, possibly wearing a wig and gloves, carrying two packages. According to time stamps on the pictures, the person was in the store around 7:30 Sunday evening.
Authorities believe the same person or persons were connected to the two packages that surfaced Tuesday and were also responsible for the four other explosions that began on March 2nd that killed two people and injured six.
A sixth unrelated explosion was reported Tuesday evening in South Austin, but Austin police said it was from military memorabilia left at a Goodwill drop box.