Austin bomber had “conservative” opinions; friend calls him “intimidating”

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — In 2012, when he was 17 years old, Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt explained his political views in several blog posts he wrote for an Austin Community College course on U.S. government.

On the blog, Conditt described himself as a conservative. Authorities have not ruled out racially-motivated hate crime, due to the fact that the victims were minorities who appeared to have been targeted and connected to racial justice activism, but the blog posts provide insight into Conditt’s thinking as he was growing up.

He wrote that he supported abolishing a sex offender registry:

“So you have a guy who committed a crime. Will putting him on a (sex offender) list make it better? wouldn’t this only make people shun him, keep him from getting a job, and making friends? Just for a crime that he may have committed over 15 years ago as a adolescent? On a side note, one fifth of all rapes are committed by a juvenile,” Conditt wrote.

On abortion, he wrote: “First, if a women does not want a baby, or is incapable of taking care of one, she should not participate in activities that were made for that reason. Second, if we are going to give women free abortions, why not give men free condoms, or the like? Is it not up to the couple to take these preventive measures?”

Arguing against gay marriage, he wrote that homosexuality is “not natural.” “Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. 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 nuts together and then say, “See, it’s natural for them to go together.”

Conditt attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012 but did not graduate, according to school records.

A close high school friend on Wednesday paints him as a smart but opinionated–and often intimidating–young man.

“When I met Mark, he was really rough around the edges,” Jeremiah Jensen, 24, told the local Austin American Statesman.

“He was a very assertive person and would end up being kind of dominant and intimidating in conversation. A lot of people didn’t understand him and where he was coming from. He really just wanted to tell the truth. What I remember about him was that he would push back on you if you said something without thinking about it. He loved to think and argue and turn things over and figure out what was really going on.”

The two were close in 2012 and 2013, said Jensen, who would often go to the Conditts’ home for lunch after Sunday church service and attend Bible study and other activities together. Jensen said Conditt came from a good family, was athletic, enjoyed rock climbing and parkour and was a “deep thinker.”

Jensen said Conditt attended regular church services at the Austin Stone Community Church on St. John’s Avenue.

 “I know faith was a serious thing for him,” he said. “I don’t know if he held onto his faith or not. The kind of anger that he expressed and the kind of hate that he succumbed to — that’s not what he believed in in high school. I don’t know what happened along the way. This wasn’t him.”

“It’s really sad to think that one of my friends succumbed to hatred of some sort,” Jensen said. “I have no idea what caused him to make those bombs. Whatever it was I wish he would have reached out to me and asked for help or something.”

It’s unclear if Conditt had any accomplices. It appears that he was alone when he drove away from the hotel in Round Rock and when he detonated a device in his car.