Manley honors bomb squad, SWAT officer for service during March bombings


10:45 a.m. update: Austin police leaders honored bomb squad and SWAT team members with an award ceremony at City Hall on Thursday that recognized their response to the series of bombing attacks in March.

The officers received service awards, including medals of valor, for their efforts during the bombings, which lasted from March 2 until March 21. 

“When our community was at its worst, when it was under attack, law enforcement was at its best,” interim Police Chief Brian Manley said.   

Manley thanked the outside agencies who lent their help and expertise in the bombing cases, including the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as the Houston and San Antonio police departments.

Earlier: Austin bomb squad and SWAT team members who helped stop a string of bomb attacks around the city in March will be honored Thursday by police leaders, including interim Chief Brian Manley.

An award ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers at Austin City Hall in downtown. 

“The officers will be recognized for their heroic efforts and diligence throughout the ordeal,” police officials said.

The ceremony comes roughly two months after a string of bombings plagued the city and kept residents on edge for 19 days as police and other investigators hunted for the person behind the attacks.

On March 2, Anthony Stephan House, 39,  was killed on his porch in Northeast Austin after receiving a package bomb. Ten days later, a second bomb exploded in East Austin, killing 17-year-old Draylen Mason and injuring his mother, Shamika Wilson. Later that day, a third explosion in Southeast Austin injured 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera.
On March 18, two men were hospitalized after triggering a trip wire bomb in Southwest Austin. 

Two more bombs were found on March 19 – one exploded at a FedEx facility in Schertz and another was discovered at a FedEx facility in Southeast Austin.

Finally, on March 21, authorities tracked down their prime suspect, Mark A. Conditt, to a car outside a Round Rock hotel. He killed himself with an explosive device in the car as SWAT officers closed in on him.

Bomb squad team members worked around the clock, trying to determine where the next bombings could be and prevent it, often getting just four or five hours of rest, Lt. Courtney Renfro told the American-Statesman in March. Thousands of calls about suspicious packages kept the squad busy, with roughly 2,500 reports coming in the first few weeks after the third attack on March 12.

“I remember sitting in the command post and just staying on the telephone for hours and hours helping officers conduct the threat assessment based upon the knowledge I had from the bomber’s MO at the time to decide whether or not we should send a bomb tech,” Renfro said.

“My bomb technicians, likewise, stayed on their phones with their contacts for hours and hours ... responding to these thousands of calls,” he said.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.


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