Austin Bombings: Practical Lessons for All of Us


Authorities have yet to uncover a motive behind the Austin bombings months after the suspect, Mark Conditt, blew himself up after being cornered by the police.  Despite a 25 minute confession found on his phone, investigators continue to struggle to determine why this troubled individual carried out these crimes or whether or not there are links between him and the victims.  What authorities do know is that Conditt was very troubled, and that these attacks were carried out after extensive planning.


Psychological Impact

The attacks drove fear into the hearts of Austin residents, and behavioral experts believe that this was Conditt’s ultimate goal.  Five bombs were planted over a period of three weeks.  Some were in packages, others were triggered by trip-wires, and one went off at a shipping facility just outside of town.  There didn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to the attacks, and it wasn’t until police obtained his confession that investigators were sure that one person was responsible for all of them.


All of this contributed to the psychological impact the bombs had on residents for nearly three weeks.  People weren’t sure if they should avoid packages left at their doorsteps or whether or not trip-wires were placed near walkways or on their lawns.  People were also unsure of what was next, and whether or not different bombs would go off in different places.  The type of fear that was generated by these attacks is something that terrorists strive to achieve, and it’s highly-effective because its effects extend well-beyond the impact of the bombs.


Societal Breakdown Risk

There’s no telling what people would do in order to feel safe if Conditt wasn’t caught and he planted more bombs.  Just imagine how paranoia and persistent fear could manifest itself in so many ugly ways if these explosions went on for months without any clues as to why.  The economy could be disrupted, people would probably lose faith in law enforcement, social unrest could flare-up, martial law could be instituted, and copycats could carry out attacks in different parts of the country.  The list is endless in terms of the consequences associated with this scenario.


In fact, people could have found themselves at greater risk from these things instead of the bombings themselves.  Fortunately, things didn’t devolve to this point.  However, it’s a distinct possibility that can play out in the future, and it’s something that we should all take to heart.


How to Prepare

The best thing to do to prepare for a situation like this is to cover your bases in the general sense.  Make sure that you have a good stockpile in your home in case you need to hunker down for a while.  Make sure that you have some kind of defensive perimeter set up to protect your property from intruders.  Be prepared to bug out for a while.  Stay abreast of the latest news and be ready to adapt as the situation changes.


Be aware of your surroundings and look for subtle changes on your property.  For example, one of the trip-wire bombs was attached to a sign that wasn’t there in the morning.  Other bombs went off when people opened packages that they weren’t expecting, and they came from someone they didn’t know.  Having good situational awareness and being mindful of anomalies can go a long way to protect you and your family.


While there may be little that we can do to avoid the randomness of attacks by troubled individuals, we can have a plan in place to react appropriately if they happen in our communities.  Take some time to think about this type of scenario and how you would cope.  While the crisis in Austin came to a dramatic ending, the same may not be said for the next attack, and it’s important to account for this possibility in our preparedness efforts.

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