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Spring break in Austin, TX threatens student safety

As Oklahoma Christian University students spent time in Austin, TX over spring break, serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt threatened the safety of residents.

Over the course of 19 days, Conditt detonated six package bombs, including one which killed him last Wednesday, March 21. The 23-year-old set bombs at random throughout the city of Austin, killing two men and injuring several.

The Oklahoma Christian softball team played a game in Austin against St. Edwards University this past Saturday after Conditt died. Oklahoma Christian sophomore Chris Labarthe also spent time in Austin over spring break on a road trip. Although he did not notice a strong security presence, he said his relatives advised him not to open or approach any delivery packages.

“I believe the situation was handled well as the FBI got involved,” Labarthe said. “I heard little to nothing from city officials. The Austin bomber was killed, but there was another bombing and officials have concerns regarding potential copycats and future bombings.”

Oklahoma Christian sophomore Kai Liu has lived in Austin since 2006 and said she does not recall any instance of extreme violence throughout the city.

“I think there is definitely more tension among the residents,” Liu said. “People were confused mostly on what the motive or goal the bomber had, and because there was no pattern for the bombs, there wasn’t anything we could really do to protect ourselves.”

While some speculated the bomber was racially motivated—the first victims were black and Hispanic—officials concluded there was no explicit pattern for Conditt’s attacks.

“It’s interesting that people are so prone to assume that these awful things are not going to happen to them,” Liu said. “If the goal of the bomber was to instill fear, to a degree, I think it worked. But no one stopped living their lives, doing what they had to do or what they wanted to do because of this bomb threat.”

According to the University of Texas (UT) student newspaper, The Daily Texan, there is still a heightened sense of security around the city and on the UT campus. Although the bomber died, the city of Austin remains on edge.

“Everyone was very relieved, and a lot of people were shocked at who the bomber was, because he looks innocent,” Liu said. “We still did not find any closure in his death though, because he blew himself up, and last time I checked, they still had not found what his motive and goal was.”

After recovering his body Wednesday morning, police found a video Conditt made admitting to creating and detonating the package bombs.

“Even though it was scary, life still had to go on, people still went to work, kids still went to school, I still went shopping at the Domain,” Liu said. “It was weird, because it was like watching an episode of criminal minds or something, except it was very real and imminent. You didn’t know if the bad guy was gonna get caught or not.”

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