Newly-released helicopter and airplane video shows the moment the Austin bomber exploded a device as police closed in on him in Round Rock.
Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, was identified as the man responsible for a series of package bombings in March.
The bombs killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason in separate bombings. Four others were hurt: 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera at a home in east Austin, two men in their 20s injured by a tripwire bomb in southwest Austin and a FedEx employee who suffered a concussion from the explosion at the Schertz distribution facility.
Conditt was linked to a total of seven homemade, explosive packages, including one he had with him as police tracked him down on March 20.
The video, posted on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s YouTube channel, shows the bomber’s vehicle leave the Red Roof Inn parking lot and move south on the I-35 frontage near Old Settlers Boulevard around 2 a.m., followed by two vans.
The video then shows one of the vans slow in front of Conditt’s vehicle before being rammed from behind by another van. A member of the tactical team then runs toward Conditt’s passenger window and tries to break it open, followed seconds later by a large explosion that killed the bomber.
Authorities said Conditt detonated a bomb inside his vehicle after a SWAT officer fired at him.
Conditt’s death was ruled a suicide. One SWAT officer suffered minor injuries from the explosion, officials said at the time.
Years of training put to action
Tactical training for police departments is like a Swiss Army Knife — you may never need that wire cutter but if you’re in a once in a lifetime situation, it’s there.
“It’s fair to say that they positioned themselves well to make sure he didn’t have any options to get away, which is the most important thing,” said Jeff Broaddus, a former Marine Corps officer and Secret Service special agent.
He says the move you’re seeing on video was likely rehearsed in real life years before: boxing the bomber’s vehicle in then officers move in from one side so there’s no crossfire.
“Sometimes it can make people nervous that we need that kind of thing. The reality is you don’t want the first time that they do something like this to be on the day that they need to do it,” said Broaddus.
What about that first officer jumping out and trying to break into the vehicle alone? He says that’s all part of training, too.
“One of the very important principles of an operation like that is that you want to use speed, surprise, and violence of action to get done what you need to get done quickly,” he said. “The information they had at the time was that it was more important to get him into custody than it was to be careful.”