The serial Austin bomber had been part of a Christian survivalist group that would discuss weapons and dangerous chemicals – as authorities reveal he had a target list of future locations to continue his reign of terror.
Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, took part in the conservative club called Righteous Invasion of Truth (RIOT) as a teenager, which involved home-schooled youth studying the bible and being taught gun skills.
The details are among those to emerge about Conditt after he blew himself up as police tried to arrest him on Wednesday over a string of deadly package bombs that have terrorized Austin for weeks.
Conditt, an unemployed college dropout who bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, had recorded a 25-minute confession video on his cellphone hours before he died after detonating one of his own devices.
Police are still trying to understand the motive behind the series of bombings that left two dead and injured five others – and that the phone recording offered a key insight into why Conditt embarked on the killing spree.
Cassia Schultz, a childhood friend who was in the same RIOT group as the bomber, told BuzzFeed that Conditt would regularly attend the group with one of his younger sisters.
‘A lot of us were very into science; we would discuss chemicals and how to mix them and which ones were dangerous,’ Schultz, now 21, said.
‘We were into weapons and stuff. A lot of us did role-playing, and (role-playing games); we’d have foam weapons and act out a battle.’
Schultz, who described Conditt as a ‘normal kid’, said she couldn’t recall bombs or bomb making ever being discussed at the RIOT groups. She added that other members of their group were shocked to hear Conditt was behind the deadly Austin bombings.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that in the 25-minute video Conditt recorded he did not explain why he had targeted his victims but spoke in detail about each and every bomb he created.
‘He mentioned seven explosive devices, and we have identified those devices and those are no longer in play. We can account for every bomb, and he did individually identify each bomb,’ Manley said.
‘There were no indications of why these specific addresses, or those that were placed in the community, there was no reasons given for why he selected those individuals.’
Police did however discover a ‘target list’ when they raided his home. The list had ‘additional addresses we believe he was using for future targets’, according to US Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The FBI said they were confident that suspect would have continued to cause more death and destruction if he had not been caught.
Conditt was eventually tracked down using store surveillance video, cellphone signals and witness accounts of a customer shipping packages in a disguise that included a blond wig and gloves.
Police obtained CCTV footage of him posting two devices disguised as parcels at a FedEx office on Sunday night. Law enforcement sources told ABC that Conditt had posted those two parcels under the alias name Kelly Killmore.
Despite this, authorities had already obtained surveillance footage of him purchasing supplies at an electronics store nearly two weeks ago, KXAN reports.
Manager of Fry’s Electronics Jen Meyer said investigators had obtained the video with a subpoena and agents had been back at her store almost daily ever since.
‘They were looking for any invoices that we may have or surveillance video that we may have on him,’ Meyers said.
A receipt from the store shows that Conditt had purchased 10 resistors and five battery cases on February 27 – three days before the first bombing.
Conditt’s three week reign of terror came to an abrupt end on Wednesday when he detonated a bomb inside his own car when police closed in on him near a hotel on the interstate highway.
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Source: Daily Mail