Austin Police Chief Brian Manley declared the bomber who terrified residents of the Texas capital for weeks a “domestic terrorist” Thursday.
“This is a distinction I wanted to make today,” the interim police chief said at a panel discussion on reactions to the Austin bombings—including how the suspect was initially characterized by officials.
Manley said that what the bomber, Mark Conditt, “did to our community” amounted to domestic terrorism, after authorities hesitated to apply the label.
“I was so focused that we put a stop to it,” Manley said of his initial reaction to the bombings.
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But he said he is now comfortable calling the string of deadly explosions acts of terrorism “for what it did to our community,” My Statesman reported.
Roughly 100 Austin residents—including relatives of Conditt’s victims— attended the panel discussion at the George Washington Carver Museum in East Austin, which addressed race relations in the city.
Zeke Prado, whose 75-year-old aunt, Esperanza Herrera, was critically injured by a package bomb on March 12, argued that Conditt should have been labelled a terrorist from the beginning.
“He terrorized the city of Austin,” Prado said, MyStatesman reported.
Austin Justice Coalition Leader Chas Moore said that Conditt, who is white, was portrayed as “troubled,” rather than a “terrorist,” because of his race.
“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,” Moore said.
“Because he was white, we gave him the benefit of being a human first,” Moore said.
Conditt, 23, planted at least six bombs across Austin, causing weeks of panic and fear in the capital city.
He killed two people and wounded five more before killing himself.
He described himself as a remorseless “psychopath” an a recorded confession.
“I wish I were sorry, but I am not,” Conditt said in the cell phone recording.