Federal officials said a fingerprint on one of the pipe bombs discovered this week led them to Cesar Altieri Sayoc, who they arrested in Florida on Friday and charged with mailing 13 improvised explosive devices to prominent critics of President Trump.
Mr. Sayoc, who has a long history of legal troubles including an earlier explosives-related charge in 2002, was found near his white van, which was plastered with pro-Trump, anti-Democrat and anti-CNN images.
Agents sniffed out Mr. Sayoc within a few days, teasing his fingerprint off a bomb intended for a congresswoman at her D.C. office. They matched both the fingerprint and DNA recovered from other packages to records from Mr. Sayoc’s previous run-ins with the law in Florida.
“We do believe that we’ve caught the right guy,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in announcing the arrest at the Justice Department.
He said the devices they recovered had explosive material, clocks and batteries, and said they could have been detonated with the right circumstances of jostling or pressure. He said they were not “hoax” bombs, refuting internet speculation.
Mr. Sayoc is represented by Sarah Baumgartel, a federal public defender in New York. She did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
“I don’t know, other than what you might normally suspect. He appears to be a partisan,” he said.
Mr. Wray said it’s too early to talk motives.
He said they’ve brought five charges as of now: threats against a former president, threats to interstate commerce, assaulting former and current federal officers, interstate transportation of an explosive and mailing of an explosive.
They carry a maximum total penalty of 48 years in prison.
“We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially not political violence,” Mr. Sessions said.
At the White House, Mr. Trump called the pipe-bomb mailings “terrorizing acts” and vowed prosecution.
“Americans must unify and we must show the world we are united together,” he said.
A public records search for Mr. Sayoc revealed multiple run-ins with law enforcement dating back to 1991. He has been charged in the past with third-degree grand theft, domestic violence, possession of a controlled substance, battery, and “a threat to throw, place project or discharge … destructive device.”
Court records also reveal that he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2012.
Voter records show he is registered as a Republican.
Authorities seized Mr. Sayoc’s a white van at an AutoZone in Plantation, Florida, and carted it away under a blue tarp.
The van’s windows were covered with political stickers, including ones that appeared to say “CNN Sucks” and other pro-Trump and anti-Democrat messages. The stickers tracked President Trump’s campaign-trail rhetoric.
The weeklong bombing spree began with a device discovered Monday at the home of wealthy liberal funder George Soros.
Packages were then found addressed to former President Barak Obama in Washington and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York — both of them intercepted by the Secret Service at the facility that processes their mail.
A device was then discovered at CNN, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, spurring an evacuation of the Time Warner building in New York.
A fifth package was found in Florida addressed to former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. It arrived in Florida because it had Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ office address on the return label, a feature that other packages shared.
Two packages were sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, one intended to reach her in Los Angeles and another sent to Capitol Hill. That D.C. package was snared at Congress’s mail-processing facility, and is the one that had Mr. Sayoc’s fingerprint, authorities said.
One of the packages sent to Ms. Waters included a photograph of her marked with a red “X,” the FBI said. Ms. Waters has led the push to impeach Mr. Trump.
Devices discovered Thursday included one addressed to actor Robert De Niro in New York and two in Delaware, intended for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
On Friday packages were found addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, at CNN’s building in New York; a package found in the mail facility in Florida addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; and a package found in Sacramento addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams said in a statement that the package was found at a local post office and authorities were notified.
“At this moment, it is incumbent upon leaders across the political spectrum to take seriously the power they hold. It is the responsibility of our leaders to use their role as public figures to elevate our discourse and bring people together,” Ms. Adams said.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.