The Atlantic

A Spree of Violence Can Shake a Community's Worldview

The “continuous trauma” of a drawn-out event like the Austin bombings is different than a one-time disaster.
Source: Drew Anthony Smith / Getty

After 19 days, the fear and anxiety that have haunted the city of Austin, Texas, may have reached an end on Wednesday. The suspect in a series of bombings blew himself up in a truck as the police approached. Six different bombs, considered linked by the police, have killed two people and injured five more since March 2. Four of them exploded in Austin; one went off in a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas (in a package headed for an Austin address); another was found and recovered undetonated at another FedEx facility near the Austin airport.

The suspect was a 23-year-old named Mark Conditt, and . Austin officials have cautioned that there may still be other bombs out there, planted before the man died., authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility of accomplices. But even if it is truly over, residents of the Austin area have already been living with the knowledge that a bomber is at large for the better part of a month. That kind of violent-crime spree can take a toll on a community—both while it’s happening and after it’s over.

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