Pipe bomb suspect arrested in Florida after FBI matched DNA, fingerprints

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Pipe bomb suspect arrested in Florida after FBI matched DNA, fingerprints
Jim Dolan has the latest updates from Florida.

PLANTATION, Florida (WABC) -- A man who was born in New York City was arrested in Florida Friday in connection with at least 13 pipe bombs mailed to several prominent Democrats and other critics of President Donald Trump.

Law enforcement sources identified the man as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, who was taken into custody at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation. He faces five federal charges and makes his first court appearance next week.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said a latent fingerprint belonging to Sayoc was recovered on one of the envelopes sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, along with a DNA link on two other IEDs.

Misspellings from his online posts matched mistakes found on the packages, according to an 11-page criminal complaint that included the formal charges of threatening former presidents and transporting explosives across state lines, the Associated Press reports.

Sayoc was born in Brooklyn and attended college in North Carolina before moving to the Miami suburbs in the late 1980s. He is an amateur bodybuilder and former stripper whose online resume describes him as a promoter and booking agent for male stripper and burlesque shows.

He reportedly has a criminal history, with court records in Florida showing that Sayoc was arrested in 2002 and served a year of probation for a felony charge of threatening to throw or place a bomb.

RELATED: What we know about pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc

Officers were seen examining a white van, its windows plastered with Trump's image and political stickers. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck. He appeared to be living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness center.

Sayoc is a registered Republican with social media accounts containing memes supporting Trump, denigrating Democrats and promoting conspiracy theories about George Soros, the billionaire political donor who was the first targeted this week by a package bomb.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Sayoc is currently charged with five federal crimes and faces up to 48 years in prison, though he left the door open for additional charges. He will be charged in federal court in Manhattan after an initial court appearance in Florida, as five of the improvised devices were recovered in the Southern District of New York.

President Donald Trump spoke after the arrest, saying Sayoc will be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."

"We must never allow political violence take root in America," he said. "These terrorizing acts are despicable."

President Trump addressed the arrest in the mail bomb investigation during the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House.

Authorities have now recovered 14 packages as part of the widening investigation into suspected bombs after four additional devices were discovered in Florida, New York City and California on Friday. Sayoc currently only faces charges in connection with13 packages.

The 11th package was recovered at or near Opa-locka, Florida, and was addressed to Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. It was found during an overnight search of that facility, according to a law enforcement official.

A 12th device was discovered at the 52nd Street post office in Manhattan and was addressed to Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper via CNN.

Devices were also intercepted that were addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris in Sacramento and billionaire liberal activist and fundraiser Tom Steyer in Burlingame.

Investigators were led to South Florida in part by forensic evidence obtained from the packages and from US Postal Service images of mail that is processed through their facilities. They all had a return address of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Law enforcement officials seized three more suspicious packages Thursday and said they were similar to crude suspected pipe bombs sent to George Soros, former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN, Rep. Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Two were sent to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware, and another was addressed to Robert De Niro and sent to a Manhattan address associated with the actor.

Who are the targets of the suspected pipe bomb packages

None of the devices exploded, and no one was injured.

Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.

Law enforcement officials said that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm. The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: "Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it's just not Presidential!'" He also complained that all this "bomb stuff" was distracting ahead of the midterm elections.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


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