6:40 a.m. update: The suspect in a string of bombings in Austin is dead, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed early Wednesday.
The name of the suspect, described only as a 24-year-old white man, has not been released, pending notification of his family, Manley said.
Although police are still investigating the possibility of accomplices, he said, “we believe this individual is responsible for all of the incidents in Austin.”
Manley urged the community to remain vigilant for possible other explosives, adding that “we do not know where (the suspect) has been in the past 24 hours.”
Police have not identified a motive for the string of bombings, Manley said.
Investigators identified several leads but the case really broke in the past 24 to 36 hours, the chief said.
He described how authorities tracked down the suspect’s vehicle to a Round Rock-area hotel. Police began following the suspect’s vehicle, and as SWAT approached, the suspect detonated a bomb in the car, Manley said.
Manley said an officer had fired at the suspect, and another officer who was knocked back by the blast was treated for minor injuries.
Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said authorities “know when he bought some of the components … It was fairly recently.”
“Fortunately we were able to do some digging and find this individual over the past 48 hours,” Milanowski said.
He described the device used in the car as a “significant explosive device,” but did not provide any other details.
Milanowski said the suspect was in the parking lot of the hotel, which had been swept by technicians and bomb-detection dogs.
“We are fairly comfortable there is (no threat) out in the open there,” he said, but he did not confirm whether the suspect was staying in the hotel.
Malinowski also commended the collaboration among all the law enforcement elements involved.
“We’ve had serial bombing cases in the past 20 years so law enforcement has gotten better but really it was the partnerships that came together,” he said. “Everyone was dedicated. There were people that were working 17 hours a day because they wanted to catch this person.”
Four bombs had exploded in Austin since March 2, killing two men and injuring four people. A fifth bomb exploded early Tuesday at a FedEx sorting facility in Schertz, about 60 miles southwest of Austin. A package containing what was believed to be an unexploded bomb was found Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center in Austin. Authorities believe the FedEx packages were sent from the FedEx retail store in Sunset Valley.
News of the suspect’s death generated expressions of relief and congratulations.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who appeared with Manley when he made his remarks early Wednesday, commended law enforcement for their efforts.
Adler also said that after spending time in neighborhoods where the bombs were detonated, he hopes that Austin can come together to form stronger community ties.
“As a community we need to do a better job of knowing the people that live across the street,” he said. “If there’s a takeaway from this, it’s that we can be and should be a better community if we get to know each other better.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted, “BIG NEWS. The Austin Bomber is dead,” before adding that “more work needs to be done to ensure no more bombs had been sent before he died.”
“The investigation continues to learn more information,” Abbott wrote. “Congratulations to the combined law enforcement effort.”
President Donald Trump’s first tweet of the day on Wednesday was congratulatory as well: “AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”
Earlier: A man whom authorities were attempting to arrest early Wednesday in a string of bombing attacks in Austin killed himself with an explosive device as authorities closed in, a high-ranking law enforcement official told the American-Statesman.
The official said authorities identified a suspect in the past 24 hours based largely on information gained after police said the suspect shipped an explosive device from a FedEx store in Sunset Valley, a suburb surrounded by Austin. That evidence included security video.
Authorities also relied upon store receipts showing suspicious transactions from the person and obtained a search warrant for his Google search history that showed him conducting searches they considered suspicious, the official said.
Authorities relied upon cell phone technology to trace the suspect to a hotel in Williamson County, the official said.
Four bombs have exploded in Austin since March 2, killing two men and injuring four people. A fifth bomb exploded early Tuesday at a FedEx sorting facility in Schertz, about 60 miles southwest of Austin. A package containing what was believed to be an unexploded bomb was found Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center in Austin. Authorities believe the FedEx packages were sent from the FedEx retail store in Sunset Valley.
If all of the bombs originated with the same person, the use of FedEx represented a major shift in the bomber’s methods and a major break for authorities. The first three Austin bombs were left overnight on doorsteps and were not delivered by commercial delivery services, authorities have said. The fourth bomb was left next to a street in a residential subdivision and was triggered by a trip wire strung over a sidewalk.
This is a developing story. More details to come.