— Mary Huber (@marymhuber) March 29, 2018
Austin Interim Police Chief Brian Manley says he’s now comfortable calling the Austin serial bomber a “domestic terrorist.”
Manley made the distinction during a Thursday panel discussion on how the police, media and the community responded to the fatal bombings, the Austin Statesman reported. The chief faced criticism earlier this month for his sympathetic description of bombing suspect Mark Conditt, 23, who he called a “very challenged young man.”
” … When I look at what he did to our community and as your police chief—I actually agree now, that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us,” Manley told the crowd. “This is a distinction I wanted to make today.”
Conditt killed two people and injured four others with package explosives he sent to the victims’ homes. The first three victims were minorities, leading authorities to believe the crimes could be racially motivated. The bombings left Austin residents on high alert for weeks, until Conditt blew himself up in a car as police closed in on him.
Knowing the case would enter the legal system at some point, Manley said he was trying to be sensitive about the terminology he used during the investigation, the newspaper stated. That “sensitivity” prompted critics to highlight the differences in how police and the media characterize white suspects compared to Black and brown ones.
Some audience members were pleased with Manley acknowledging the bombings were domestic terrorism, but for others, the distinction came a little too late.
“We do not know, we will not know what that qualification more early in the investigation would have done, what resources would have been provided to make sure that more lives weren’t lost,” attendee Kristina Brown of Counter Balance ATX told the Austin Statesman.
Audience member Zeke Prado was also upset by how the serial bomber was initially characterized.
“He terrorized the city of Austin,” Prado said.