Federal authorities have made an arrest in the pipe bomb mailings four days after the investigation began. Cesar Sayoc, a 56 year old DJ and former stripper, is accused of sending 13 pipe bombs through the mail to a range of Democrats and critics of the president. Authorities say Sayoc left a trail of forensic and digital evidence behind that authorities used to track him down and arrest him. Prosecutors charged Sayoc with five federal crimes and he faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Sayoc, who has a long criminal history, was arrested in Florida after investigators linking DNA found on two bomb packages to a sample that was previously collected by the state of Florida. They also matched his fingerprints to one from a separate pipe bomb mailing he sent. Authorities say he had previously filed for bankruptcy and appeared to be living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness center.
Authorities launched an investigation after packages containing homemade pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats. The packages were sent to Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congress member Maxine Waters and former CIA Director John Brennan. Investigators say the devices may have originated in southern Florida and were sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The 10 packages being examined had a return address for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and on some of the packages, her last name was misspelled.
CNN had to evacuate its New York office in Manhattan after it received what police described as a “live explosive device.” The package was delivered by courier to CNN’s offices at the Time Warner Center in New York and was addressed to the former CIA director John Brennan. The package also contained an envelope containing white powder. Police are also investigating a suspicious package found early this morning that was mailed to actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant in New York. De Niro has frequently publicly criticized the president. Two additional packages were intercepted Thursday, headed for former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware. Authorities discovered the two packages at post offices in Delaware addressed to the former vice president. At least one of them had been misaddressed and returned to sender. No one was hurt in any of the cases.
Authorities say the devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs that were rudimentary but functional. All the explosive devices had similar construction, had timer devices and at least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass. Sources say the bombs were unstable and could have been set off by handling. The FBI said all the packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior and had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelopes.
Investigators are analyzing the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply cause fear before the Midterm Election. Law enforcement officials said that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. They are uncertain whether the devices were just poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.