Police say the suspect in the Austin bombing attacks is dead

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The man suspected of several bombings in Austin died early Wednesday morning as officers attempted to arrest him, police said. 

Authorities tracked the man to a Round Rock-area hotel before sunrise. As they waited for backup to arrive, he drove away. Officers followed and the man drove into a ditch, where he detonated his own bomb. One officer was injured in the explosion.   

"The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred," said Brian Manley, Austin's interim police chief. 

Manley added, "This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community."

Police didn't release the identity of the suspect Wednesday morning, but said he was a 24-year-old white male. A law enforcement official told The New York Times that the man lived in Pflugerville. Police said they don't yet know what the motive was for the attacks. Police are still investigating, but Manley said, “we believe this individual is responsible for all of the incidents.”

Still, police said people in Austin need to stay vigilant, since "we don't know where this suspect has spent his last 24 hours."

And authorities said that many questions remain unanswered. Police said they still don't know the motive of the bomber, and are looking into whether he had any accomplices. 

"We will be here as long as it takes with our partners to figure out exactly what happened, why it happened and how it happened," said Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division.

Prior to Wednesday morning, five bombs had exploded in or near Texas’ capital city in recent weeks. A sixth bomb was found at a FedEx facility, but didn’t detonate. Two people have died — not including the suspected bomber — and several others were seriously injured.

The first three bombings happened in East Austin, an area of the city that has historically been home to black and Hispanic residents. Each of those involved a package left at the front of a person’s house that exploded. Two people were killed — 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House on March 2 and 17-year-old Draylen Mason on March 12.

Hours after the explosion that killed Mason, 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera also received an exploding package bomb. She was seriously injured but is expected to survive.

Then on Sunday night, the bomber appeared to switch up his methods. A bomb exploded in a southwest Austin residential neighborhood, seriously injuring two people. Law enforcement officials said a tripwire device ignited that blast. Authorities declared that a sophisticated “serial bomber” might be at work.

Then another package explosion occurred Tuesday morning at a FedEx facility in Schertz, which is outside of San Antonio. Authorities said that package was headed for Austin. The unexploded bomb was found at a second FedEx facility hours later.

The man's decision to send bombs by FedEx seemed to provide authorities with a break in the case. FedEx said Tuesday that it was able to hand over "extensive evidence" related to the packages and who shipped them.

President Donald Trump celebrated the news on Twitter early Wednesday morning, posting "AUSTIN BOMBING SUSPECT IS DEAD. Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!"

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2018/03/21/austin-serial-bombing-suspect-dies/.

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