The man police believe was responsible for a string of lethal package bombs in Austin has died after a shootout with police that ended with him killing himself with an explosive device early Wednesday, police confirmed.
Austin police interim chief Brian Manley said in a press conference that the man, described as a 24-year-old white male, killed himself by detonating an explosive while still in his car as SWAT team officers approached on foot, after being pursued along Interstate-35, in the Round Rock district, in north Austin.
One officer fired on the suspect and another officer was injured by the blast.
Manley confirmed that the suspect – who has not been named as the investigation continues – was behind a series of five bombings which terrorized Austin in the last few weeks, killing two people.
He also urged Austin residents and its surrounding towns and cities to remain vigilant as there could be more undiscovered packages.
“We believe that this individual is responsible for all incidents that have taken place in Austin starting March 2 and since then,” Manley said.
“We don’t know where he has been in the last 24 hours and we need your communities to remain vigilant. If you see something out off place, if you see something that causes concern, than call 911 because we have had far too many trudges in the last few weeks.
Manley said that in the last 24 to 36 hours, police had identified the man as the key suspect in the case and tracked him down to a hotel in the Round Rock area – officers were waiting for a tactical ballistics team to arrive before engaging him. But before the team could arrive, the suspect drove off, prompting a chase.
A driver captured the scene on I-35 shortly after the suspect was captured and described seeing some 50 police cars.
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A police investigation will still take place to establish the motive of the bomber, despite the death of the main suspect.
“The one thing we don’t have right now is a motive,” Manley said. “We don’t understand what motivated him to do what he did.
“We don’t know whether he was on his way to deliver another bomb. It’s obvious he had another bomb with him which he detonated when we approached.”
Three earlier explosions killed 39-year-old Anthony House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason, and injuring a 75-year-old woman who remains in critical condition.
In total, Austin police responded to more than 1,000 calls from the public since the first bomb incident on 2 March.