Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has declared the bomber who terrified residents of the Texas capital for weeks a “domestic terrorist.”
“This is a distinction I wanted to make today,” the interim police chief said at a panel discussion Thursday on reactions to the Austin bombings. Manley said that what the bomber, Mark Conditt, “did to our community” amounted to domestic terrorism, after authorities hesitated to apply the label.
The police department was criticized for not referring to the bomber as a terrorist.
Manley said, at the time, he was too focused on catching the bomber. But after some reflection, he said he now feels more comfortable labeling the bombings as terrorism.
“I was so focused that we put a stop to it,” he said of the bombings that terrorized Austin for nearly three weeks.
The series of bombs planted by Conditt killed two African-Americans and injured several others, including a Latina, raising fears of possible hate crimes.
After the bomber killed himself with explosives as police closed in on him, Manley told reporters that a 25-minute video found on Conditt’s cellphone didn’t shed light on his motive. Manley said Conditt did not refer to terrorism or hate in his confession.
Local leaders also criticized the media for how Conditt, a 24-year-old white man, was portrayed, the Statesman reported.
“The way the media covered this story, this ‘troubled young man.’ Was the young man troubled? Absolutely. But he was a troubled young man that turned out to be a terrorist,” Chase Moore, the leader of the Austin Justice Coalition, said.
Moore said Conditt was given the benefit of “being a human first” only because he was white.