Austin Authorities Deployed Drones to Research Bombing Suspect's Home

While police managed to track the now-deceased Austin bombing suspect, drones were deployed above his neighborhood to assess further risk.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The tragic series of package bombings in Austin, Texas left two people dead, and several others wounded. The 24-year-old now-deceased suspect, Mark Anthony Conditt, was ultimately tracked and located by drones aerially scoping out his residence in the Pflugerville suburbs upon his death. Even post-emergency, unmanned aerial vehicles serve as an invaluable tool for law enforcement, by alleviating risk, saving time, and potentially saving lives.

According to the NY Post, the police tracked Conditt to a Round Rock city hotel using cellular triangulation and surveillance footage from a nearby FedEx, before a SWAT team attempted to detain him on Interstate 35 at 3 a.m.; when Conditt detonated a bomb, killing himself and injuring an officer. Afterwards, authorities deployed drones over the Conditt’s home presumably to assess potential risk factors and garner as much preliminary visual data as possible.

Jay Schulze, a resident of Pflugerville since 2005, told the NY Post that he was questioned about the bombings by police while he was out jogging. Schulze claimed there was a substantial law enforcement presence in the area, with drones flying over one particular home from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 3 a.m. Wednesday. While there isn’t much information regarding the contents of the home, Schulze described it as “a weird house with a lot of people coming and going,” as well as appearing a bit neglected. What we do know, is that Conditt lived with two roommates, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claims have cooperated swimmingly. “I would venture to say those two roommates are not at this time suspects,” he told Fox News

As the NY Post reports, Gov. Abbott said investigators were eager to confirm whether or not the hotel where he was initially spotted was where he manufactured the bombs, or if there were other, yet unknown locations, such as the house. “That would be the possibility, but again we can’t say with specificity whether there was one or multiple locations where he was building the bombs,” Abbot said. 

What is clear, however, is that Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales said Conditt lived in his neighborhood, and that drone technology is becoming an increasingly substantial tool in post-emergency assessments such as this one. 

We’ve reported on drones in law enforcement before, with departments across the country seemingly increasingly eager to utilize this affordable, capable modern tool as part of their tactical approaches and strategies. While this tragic series of bombings didn’t end because of a drone, UAVs might very well help prevent incidents like this from being completed, and at least, in this case, helped officials investigate.