While most of us were sleeping, the ongoing wave of bombing attacks in Austin, Texas seems to have come to an end with the death of the domestic terrorist responsible for the blasts. NBC News, confirming reports from multiple outlets, is reporting that the bomber is dead. A rapidly unfolding police investigation identified the 24-year-old white male (whose name does not need to be glorified here) and he was confronted by authorities with one of his own explosive devices in hand. That wound up being the cause of his death. While the city may be breathing a sigh of relief, residents are already saying that their reality has been altered.
The suspect thought to be responsible for a spate of bombings in Texas is believed to be “neutralized and down,” according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation early Wednesday.
The Austin Police Department was working on an “officer involved shooting” on IH-35, according to a tweet from the department. It did not explicitly state that the shooting was related to the bombings.
Austin has been on edge after a series of package or other bombs detonated across the city over the past few weeks.
To see how the information about the confrontation with the bomber unfolded, check out the coverage from our colleague Caleb Howe at Redstate, who was updating reports on it for several hours. The FBI, cooperating with state and local law enforcement, identified the suspect from video footage taken at a FedEx facility showing him mailing two of the bombs. A combination of video, cell phone data and store receipts led to authorities being able to locate and confront him. Early reports speculated that the bomber may have died in a shootout with agents, but it was later confirmed that he detonated his device and killed himself. (That aspect is still under investigation.)
With two dead and multiple people injured, the impact of these attacks was spreading across the region before the suspect was identified. There was an interesting set of interviews with Austin residents in the WaPo yesterday, demonstrating how many of the locals are looking at their world in a different way now. Conveniences of modern living, such as instant delivery of Amazon packages and rapid order arrival of food and services, are now being looked at differently when a package shows up at the door.
The same rethinking of the world around them is happening here among Austin residents, some of whom said their lives would forever change in small ways to accommodate the new reality. The bomber is using Austin’s particular vulnerabilities, its quirks and characteristics, to carry out a campaign that so far has stymied investigators.
Austin residents love their home-delivery services, such as Amazon and Instacart, a grocery chain that provides store-to-doorstep service. Residents can in some cases expect their orders within hours, and on most days, UPS and FedEx trucks are a common feature of the city streetscape.
The Post’s coverage refers to Austin as having unusual “quirks and characteristics” in terms of all of these speedy delivery and transportation services, but that’s hardly unique in America today. We have become an on-demand society, quickly growing accustomed to the idea that we can whip out our phones and tablets, order anything our hearts desire and have it frequently show up at our doorstep the same day. In the past, any products which were unavailable within easy driving distance might take weeks or even longer to arrive. With the advent of flying and sidewalk-crawling drones in many communities, waiting for deliveries is frequently a thing of the past.
Now this madman has reminded people that the most routine aspects of life – letters or packages being delivered to your front step – can be twisted into a lethal situation by a determined maniac. When attacks took place at airports we hardened the security perimeters around them. Similar plans are currently being looked at for bus, train and subway stations. Will the actions of this bomber from Texas force a fresh look at all package delivery systems as well? If everything has to be scanned and sniffed for explosive materials, speedy delivery will be set back quite a ways.