What we know about the suspect in the US mail bombings

Police outside CNN’s offices in New York.
Police outside CNN’s offices in New York.
Image: AP Photo/Kevin Hagen
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This developing story will be updated.

US authorities have arrested a Florida man suspected of sending mail bombs to around a dozen high-profile critics of Donald Trump this week, the Department of Justice said.

The suspect: Cesar Sayoc

In a press conference, US attorney general Jeff Sessions identified the man as Cesar Sayoc, 56, from Aventura, Florida. Sayoc is a registered Republican, with a criminal history dating back to 1991.

Savoc’s past charges are related to felony theft, drugs, fraud, and threatening to use a bomb, the New York Times reports. A Twitter account that appears to belong to him is filled with pro-Trump messages, and ones attacking some of the bombs’ targets, including billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

The charges against Sayoc

Sayoc could face up to 58 years in prison, on five charges, including threatening a former US president and other citizens, and illegally mailing and transporting explosives across states, Sessions said. Those counts could change as the investigation continues.

FBI director Christopher Wray said Sayoc sent 13 explosive devices, which, he added, were “not hoax devices.”

How they caught him

FBI lab workers found a “latent fingerprint” on a package sent to California Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters, Wray said. This was then matched with different DNA samples on two other packages, and a sample from another time Sayoc was arrested in Florida.

Sayoc’s van 

Investigators are examining a white van in Plantation, Florida, covered with stickers carrying Trump’s name and the presidential seal, according to MSNBC. Pictures of what seems to be the van shared on social media show a sign with a target aimed at a photograph of Hillary Clinton and an anti-CNN poster.

Sayoc’s motivations

When asked why Sayoc was targeting Democrats, Sessions replied: “I don’t know, other than what you might normally expect. He appears to be a partisan, but that would be determined by the facts as the case goes forward.”

Wray declined to comment on whether the Trump era’s heated political rhetoric may have been a factor. “We’re focused not on the talk but on the work,” he said. “We’re concerned about people committing acts of violence under any motivation.”

His belongings 

Authorities are also looking at “right-wing paraphernalia” found at the scene of the arrest, MSNBC added.

Who Sayoc targeted

Targets of the pipe-bomb packages include Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro and CNN’s New York offices. All the packages bore a misspelled return address for representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat. Armed with information gathered by the US Postal Service, investigators honed in on various Florida postal centers—including one in Opa-locka near Miami.

Wray said the arrest “doesn’t mean we are all out of the woods,” and that more packages may be in the mail. He encouraged anyone with information to call the FBI tipline 1-800-CALL-FBI.

What Donald Trump is saying

Speaking at the White House, Trump said the suspect will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law” and that “we must never allow political violence take root in America.” He said: “these terrorizing acts are despicable” and that  Americans “must unify.” 

The Associated Press noted that the president’s remarks “came just hours after Trump tweeted a complaint that the media’s focus on bombs was distracting from Republican efforts in the upcoming midterm elections.”