When Fox News's Geraldo Rivera speculated Tuesday that the Austin bomber may have chosen the Texas capitol because of its status as a deep-blue enclave in the middle of red-state Texas, he might've been on to something.
In a profile of suspected Austin Bomber Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin American-Statesman spoke with several of the suspected bombers friends, who revealed that Conditt was deeply religious and had railed against homosexuality and abortion in a series of blog posts published when he was 17.
Conditt was homeschooled, which may have made it harder for him to fit in in the "real world," a friend said. External indicators suggest Conditt didn't have many friends. On a Facebook profile that was removed early Wednesday, Conditt only had 12 friends.
The same friend added that, when he first met Conditt, the boy seemed "rough around the edges" and could be assertive in an off-putting way.
"It’s really sad to think that one of my friends succumbed to hatred of some sort," Jeremiah Jensen, 24, who was homeschooled in the same Pflugerville community as Conditt, told the American-Statesman. "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."
Jensen was one of only about a dozen friends listed on Conditt’s Facebook page before it was removed on Wednesday morning.
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 attending 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."
"When I met Mark, he was really rough around the edges," Jensen said. "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 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."
Conditt's friend added that he knew faith was "a serious thing for him."
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."
As a fellow homeschool student, Jensen described the inner experience of a lot of his friends as one of "loneliness."
"It’s just very difficult for a lot of kids to find a way to fit in once they are out in the real world," he said. "I have a feeling that is what happened with Mark. I don’t remember him ever being sure of what he wanted to do."
Back in 2012, when Corbitt was 17 years old, he outlined his political views in a series of blog posts that he wrote for an Austin Community College course on government.
Corbitt explained that he believed homosexuality was "unnatural" and that abortions were tantamount to murder. He added that he supported getting rid of the sex offender registry because too many people can't get jobs "because of a crime they committed 15 years ago as an adolescent."
On the blog, Conditt described himself as a conservative. It’s not clear whether politics played any role in the bombings, but the blog posts provide insight into Conditt’s thinking as he was growing up.
He wrote that he was against gay marriage and abortion and in favor of the death penalty.
He also wrote that he supported doing away with the sex offender registration system.
"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.'"
Police are still investigating the bombings and have said Corbitt may have had accomplices. No motive has been determined. Police have said that neither Corbitt's roommates nor his family are suspected of being involved with the bombings.