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Suspect charged in package bomb scare

by Lynde Langdon & Mickey McLean
Posted 10/26/18, 06:04 pm

UPDATE: Federal prosecutors have formally charged a Florida man apprehended Friday for carrying out this week’s nationwide mail-bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats. Department of Justice officials said DNA and a fingerprint on one of the packages helped them link Cesar Altieri Sayoc of Aventura, Fla., to the crimes after a five-day investigation.

Sayoc was arrested near an auto parts store in Plantation, Fla., north of Miami and was charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting federal officers, according to the criminal complaint against him.

Two other suspicious packages were intercepted Friday in California, one intended for Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris and another for billionaire political activist Tom Steyner. Authorities remain on high alert for other possible packages still en route to their destinations.

Although none of the packages exploded, FBI Director Chris Wray noted that they did contain potentially explosive materials and warned, “These are not hoax devices.” Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that the devices were not rigged to explode upon opening, but they were not certain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Sayoc, an amateur bodybuilder, a former male stripper, and a registered Republican, was placed on probation 16 years ago for a bomb threat charge. He has a long history of arrests and financial problems. Born in New York City, Sayoc attended college in North Carolina and moved to the Miami area in the late 1980s. His social media posts often criticized Democrats and praised President Donald Trump. The posts included misspellings that matched errors found on the mailing labels of the packages.

After Sayoc’s arrest, the president said, “We must never allow political violence take root in America” and that Americans “must unify.” Trump later said he bears “no blame” for the suspect’s actions.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (1:17 p.m.): Federal authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with a mail scare that targeted Democratic politicians and prominent supporters with suspicious packages this week containing devices that looked like pipe bombs. Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Cesar Altieri Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla. According to court and other public records, Sayoc, who was born in New York, has a lengthy criminal and court record in Florida. He has been convicted on grand theft, stolen property, and traffic charges and in 2002 on a threat to “throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device” directed at a Florida utility representative, according to the attorney who represented him. Law enforcement officers Friday in Plantation, Fla., examined a white van tied to the suspect, its windows covered with an assortment of decals, including what appeared to be the logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

Authorities so far have intercepted a dozen packages addressed to high-profile Democrats across the country, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CIA Director John Brennan (at CNN’s New York offices), former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Vice President Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, and liberal billionaire George Soros. None of the devices exploded, and it wasn’t clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply give recipients a scare. On Friday, authorities said they most recently found suspicious packages addressed to Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and former National Director of Intelligence James Clapper. All of the packages were sent through the U.S. Postal Service with the Florida office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, as the return address.

The bomb scare has become political fodder as the midterm elections approach. Some Democrats blame Republican rhetoric for inflaming potential violence against liberals, while some Republicans theorize the plot was cooked up to make them look bad before Election Day. President Donald Trump has called for calm and unity and lamented the effect of the incident on the midterms. “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows—news not talking politics,” the president tweeted early Friday. Later in the day at a youth leadership summit, Trump said the perpetrator would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, declaring that “these terrorizing acts are despicable.”

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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Mickey McLean

Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.

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  •  CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Fri, 10/26/2018 06:29 pm

    Orlando news media is reporting that he has a felon record is a registered Republican. Unless he went to the clemancy board and got approved, he should not be registered to vote in any party. Are we being lied to? Is the Broward County Supervisor of Elections incompetant or corrupt?

  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 10/26/2018 07:29 pm

    "Some Democrats blame Republican rhetoric for inflaming potential violence against liberals..."

    i suppose it is objective reporting to state this as a fact, but why not contextualise these comments.  I believe the republican leadership has roundly condemned all acts of violence and called for civility.  Conversely, in the past two years it is the democratic leadership that has failed to condemn acts of violence and not called for civility.  This is not meant to excuse the president's loose lips and frequent use of hyperbole.

  • not silent
    Posted: Sat, 10/27/2018 12:01 am

    According to the Miami Herald: "The [prior] case did not make Sayoc a convicted felon or bar him from voting. He received a 'withhold of adjudication,' which means the case did not technically count as a felony conviction.  (Generally a judge can withhold adjudication for peple with minor criminal backgrounds.)  Sayoc has been an active voter in recent years, records show.  He has been registered to vote in Miami-Dade as a Republican since 2012 and voted in recent primary and general elections."

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Sat, 10/27/2018 08:33 am

    I think that it's time to let go of the Leftist Plot conspiracy theories.  The case is very simple on its merits:  a spiritually imbalanced man who happens to be a Republican who supports Pres. Trump mailed bombs to famous liberals.  This is a fruit of the mobocratic behavior about which Jamie Dean wrote.  Pres. Trump is not responsible for the actions of individuals, but he--and we--are responsible for the words that come out of our mouths.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 10/27/2018 06:29 pm

    An insane man mailed those bombs.

     “Spiritually imbalanced,” as Mr. Bossard characterizes Sayoc, seems a bit of an euphemism, politically correct perhaps?  

    One thing we must not do is fall for the current leftist narrative that conservative politics is the incubator for insane acts of violence and hate. In what I regard as an insane fit, Cain slew his brother Abel. Angry violent acts are as old as human history and are inspired by the enemy of our souls, not by any particular political philosophy.