March 21, 2018 / 4:59 PM / 9 months ago

Deadly Texas blast suspect was quiet, home-schooled

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - The quiet, home-schooled son of a local couple that sold Amway products is suspected of staging a three-week deadly bombing campaign that gripped the Texas capital of Austin.

An arrest warrant and federal criminal complaint identified the maker of the homemade bombs as Mark Conditt, 23, of the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, Texas, law enforcement said on Wednesday.

Conditt, who in 2017 moved out of the Pflugerville home owned by his parents, Danene and William Conditt, blew himself up on Wednesday as police closed in on him.

Attempts to contact members of the Conditt family by telephone and at their homes in Pflugerville were unsuccessful.

Unemployed Mark Conditt was living with a couple of roommates in a home just hundreds of yards from the mayor of Pflugerville when a three-week series of explosions rocked the community, killing two people and injuring five others, public records show.

Conditt attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012 but did not graduate, school spokeswoman Jessica Vess said in an email.

As part of a U.S. politics class, students were required to create a blog about their own views on topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception, classmate Juliana Solitro told Reuters.

Conditt’s six posts on his “Defining my Stance” blog in 2012 included arguments in favor of the death penalty and against same-sex marriage, which at the time was legal in only a handful of states.

“Homosexuality is not natural,” Conditt wrote. “Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple ... it is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to [sic] nuts together.”

He described himself as a conservative but said he was not politically inclined. He said he enjoyed “cycling, parkour, tennis, reading and listening to music.”

Conditt had amassed 30 hours of college credit when he received his high school diploma, having been home-schooled with his three siblings, his mother wrote on Facebook.

“But he’s thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do ... maybe a mission trip,” Danene Conditt wrote on Facebook.

Delton Southern, who said Conditt frequented his local Delton’s barbershop for years, described him as “a quiet guy.”

Neighbours said the Conditt family, who live in a neat white house with a blue picket fence around the front porch, was quiet and the parents sold products for Amway, the direct-sales household and personal care items company.

“They are a really nice, calm family,” said retiree Jeff Reeb, who lives next door. “They have always been extremely nice.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas

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