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Call It What It Is: Austin Police Chief Blasted for Sympathetic Description of Austin Bomber

Austin’s police chief is catching criticism over his description of the serial bombing suspect that terrorized the city of Austin with a series of package explosives that killed two people and left several others injured.

At a news conference Wednesday, Police Chief Brian Manley revealed authorities had found a 25-minute cellphone recording with bomber suspect Mark Conditt’s “confession,” in which he detailed the differences among the bombs he built, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. Manley described the tape as the “outcry of a very challenged young man.”

“Having listened to that recording, he doesn’t at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate,” Manely said of Conditt, 23, who blew himself up in a car early Wednesday as police closed in on him.

The police chief’s refusal to label Conditt a domestic terrorist sparked outrage among critics who charged that the suspect would’ve quickly been called a terrorist had he been a person of color and not a quiet, “nerdy” white man from a “tight-knit godly family.” Several took to social media to voice their frustration over the blatant double standard.

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The New York Times was also called out for its description of the bomber, as its coverage painted Conditt as just the nerdy kid of the neighborhood.

“He was … always reading, devouring books and computers and things like that,” Donna Sebastian Harp, who’s known the Conditt family for almost 18 years, told the paper. “He was always kind of quiet.”

Next-door neighbor Jeff Reeb, 75, said Conditt always seemed like he was very polite.

“It’s extremely shocking,” Reeb said amid news that his young neighbor was behind the deadly bombings. “My summation is it doesn’t make any sense. It just doesn’t make any sense, which, most of these things like this, don’t make any sense.”

So far, Conditt has been linked to six bombs that either exploded or were discovered in the Austin area before they went off. The first blast occurred March 2, fatally injuring 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. Two more explosions occurred less than two weeks later, killing promising musician Draylen Mason, 17, and injuring an elderly Hispanic woman.

All of Conditt’s early victims were minorities, but police have backed off initial suggestions that the bombings could be racially motivated.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Manley said at a press conference earlier this month.

The family of the now-deceased bomber released a statement in the wake of his identity being released to the public in which they expressed shock in his involvement in the tragedies.

“We are devastated and broken at the news that our family member could be involved,” the statement read. “We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in.”

“Our family is a normal family in every way,” it continued. “We love, and we pray and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for those families who have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way and for the soul of our Mark.”

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A motive for the bombings is still being determined.

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