Home Homeland Security Austin Bomber: Rep. McCaul Suggests Creating Domestic Terrorism Charge

Austin Bomber: Rep. McCaul Suggests Creating Domestic Terrorism Charge

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U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday that the Austin bombings case might cause officials and lawmakers to consider creating a criminal charge for domestic terrorism.

International terrorism is defined under federal statute along with related criminal charges. No charge exists for domestic terrorism.

“We simply have a definition that the FBI can open up the case under domestic terrorism,” McCaul said. “That is something we’ll be looking at … whether domestic terrorism could be turned into a charge rather than just a definition.”

McCaul made the comment during a news conference Saturday at which he thanked local, state and federal authorities for their work in putting an end to the string of deadly bombings that suspended the city in a state of fear and anxiety for three weeks.

Police have said suspect Mark Conditt left behind a recorded confession on a phone found in his possession after he detonated an explosive as officers closed in on him Wednesday.

McCaul said authorities are still investigating whether the bombings might have been a hate crime, including by looking into Conditt’s social media posts and his belongings. Still, McCaul did not shy away from referring to terror in his comments.

“It’s hard to imagine someone whose mind is so sick that they could commit bombings like this and feel absolutely no remorse,” McCaul said. “It’s unequivocal that this man, this individual, this sick individual terrorized the city of Austin and this community.”

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley clarified Saturday that Conditt’s confession tape not only did not mention hate, as he has said over the past week, but it also did not mention race.

“To be clear, the suspect in this incident rained terror on this community,” Manley said. “We will identify, if possible, any motive.”

Manley again said that officials have not yet decided whether they will release the tape at the end of the investigation.

He added that no other individuals have been charged thus far, though police are still investigating whether Conditt might have had accomplices.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler called the 500 federal agents who descended on the city to help “the cavalry.”

“It was like the cavalry coming over the hill,” Adler said. “The focus, and the professionalism, the confidence that army of law enforcement people brought to our city was welcome. Especially with a city that was beginning to fray.”

Adler and Manley thanked state and federal agencies for their assistance in working the case.

“If we go all the way back to March 2, the day of the very first bombing, we had the FBI, we had the ATF, we had the U.S. Postal Service on scene, ready to go, that day, and you stayed with us throughout this entire event,” Manley said. “And not only did you stay with us, but you continually brought more resources so that we could bring this to a resolution.

Adler commended the leadership of City Manager Spencer Cronk, who had been on the job for only a matter of weeks when the bombings began.

Manley and Adler said the city’s thoughts remain with the victims and their families and encouraged the public to donate to online crowdsourcing campaigns in their names.

“Our hearts stay with you, our thoughts are with you, and we are praying for a quick and complete recovery for your injuries, and then again for the House and Mason families, we are with you in your loss,” Manley said.

Manley said the federal agencies’ presence will diminish in coming days and weeks, but the investigation will continue.

“There is a lot of work that still needs to be done and a lot of evidence that is still being processed and a lot of individuals that will still likely be interviewed as we work through this case,” Manley said. “I want you to know that we are committed to seeing this thing through.”

This article is written by Taylor Goldenstein from Austin American-Statesman and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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