I had to drive past his house. It’s right by the park where I take my kids.
And then I drove to Saint Elizabeth, my home parish one-point-four-miles away, to offer a prayer of reparation for the work of the Austin Bomber of Pflugerville.
Police say he appears to have been self-taught, and it’s thought he bought his supplies at a Home Depot. I didn’t read whether they found out which Home Depot. But Pflugerville is a one Home Depot town. If he shopped here, he bought supplies to kill people at the same one across the highway from my house. It’s the same one at which I spent 100-dollars on mulch and flowers a few days ago.
My heart is heavy. It was already heavy for the story that gripped Austin and then the world. But my heart is heavy that the bomber was from Pflugerville.
He destroyed himself with a bomb in his car, but his conscience must have been killed long ago that he was able to plan, and then shop, and then assemble, and then deliver, and then hear the results, and then do it all over again.
Today at the Saint Louis school Mass where my daughters attend, the student leading the prayers of the faithful said, “For those affected by the Austin Bomber...”
And I thought of how there are so many victims in this story: those beautiful ones who died and were stolen from us too soon, those who were injured and still need prayer for their recovery, their loved ones who are so traumatized, their neighbors who can’t believe a bombing happened near them, the police who had to courageously and tirelessly work to investigate the actual incident plus hundreds of calls about suspected problems, the families of the police who were scared their loved ones would be injured and everyone in Central Texas who became fearful and felt overwhelmed.
And then there are the victims who worked in the same hotel with the bomber and then witnessed the police stand-off, the officials who saw the blast that ended the bomber’s life, the thousands of people affected by the highway being shut down for the investigation, the people who were evacuated from the bomber’s neighborhood for so many hours and the family and friends and neighbors of the bomber who are utterly shocked and heartbroken. There are so many victims.
“For those affected by the Austin Bomber,” the girl at church said, “and for the Austin Bomber himself, may God have mercy on his soul.”
A prayer. For him too.
I have read so many comments of anger and hatred in social media for the bomber. What he did was truly reprehensible, evil. What motivation could God accept for this? The bomber attended a Christian church. How could a Christian stand before Jesus and expect to hear, “Well done,” for what he did?
But I am not the judge. The Lord sees things I don’t see. He said vengeance is His, and that every single person is a sinner in need of mercy. I have no lofty height to stand on. May I also be given mercy.
“May God have mercy on his soul,” the girl said.
And we as Catholics, also in need of mercy, responded, “Lord, hear our prayer.”