Texas bombing suspect blows himself up, police say

Suspected serial bomber identified as white male (24) took own life as police approached

Austin police chief Brian Manley briefing the media on  Wednesday in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, Texas. Photograph:  Eric Gay/AP

Austin police chief Brian Manley briefing the media on Wednesday in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, Texas. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

 

A man suspected of being the bomber behind a series of explosions across central Texas blew himself up as a swat team approached, police have confirmed.

The suspect, identified by police as a 24-year-old white male, killed himself in Round Rock, a town 32km north of Austin.

A number of devices have exploded in residential areas of Austin this month, killing two and injuring several, while a package destined for the Texan city exploded on a conveyor belt at a FedEx facility near San Antonio on Tuesday.

Police previously said they believed the explosions were the work of a serial bomber.

Authorities had zeroed in on the suspect in the last 24 to 36 hours and located him at a hotel on Interstate 35 in the Austin suburb, Austin police chief Brian Manley said at a news conference.

They were waiting for ballistic vehicles to arrive when his vehicle began to drive away, Mr Manley said. Authorities followed the vehicle, which stopped in a ditch on the side of the road, the police chief said.

When members of the Swat team approached, the suspect detonated an explosive device inside the vehicle. The blast knocked back one officer, while a second officer fired his weapon, Mr Manley said.

The suspect, who suffered significant injuries from the blast, was killed. Authorities identified him only as a 24-year-old white man and said it was too soon to say if the suspect had worked alone or what his motive was.

Packages

The first three bombs were triggered by people handling packages left overnight on doorsteps and not sent via the postal service or a private company. A 39-year-old man died on March 2nd, followed by a 17-year-old boy who was killed in his kitchen on March 12th. Later that morning a 75-year-old woman was seriously hurt.

The two who died were black, and the woman Hispanic, prompting investigators and community leaders to raise racial hatred as a possible motive. However, another explosion on Sunday complicated the theory that the victims were targeted.

Two white men, aged 22 and 23, sustained serious injuries that are not thought to be life-threatening. At least one of the men had what looked like nails embedded in his knees.

The affluent, leafy neighbourhood of Travis Country was locked down for much of Monday as police cordoned off streets and told residents to stay inside as local, state and federal investigators examined the scene.

Despite the deployment of hundreds of agents and $115,000 (€94,000) worth of rewards on offer for tips leading to an arrest, authorities have struggled to identify the suspect or suspects.

The case has spurred memories of the Montana-based domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who killed three people and injured 23 others with package bombs over 17 years, starting in 1978. He was not arrested until 1996. – Guardian