What to Know
Officials are investigating up to 12 explosive packages sent to high-profile Democrats and supporters in nearly a half-dozen states[hhmc]
All had a return address linking to a high-profile Democratic party member; at least one of them also had a white powder envelope[hhmc]
The flurry of incidents began less than 48 hours after a bomb was planted in mailbox at billionaire philanthropist Soros' NY home[hhmc]
A man has been arrested in Florida in connection with the mail bomb investigation, the Department of Justice said Friday, and law enforcement officials tell News 4 they believe he is the individual who sent 12 crude package explosives to top Democrats and others in several states across the country.
Three officials identified the suspect as Cesar Sayoc, Jr. a man formerly from Brooklyn who lived in Florida. He has past arrests, including for battery, theft and other offenses. Officials say DNA evidence played a role in the arrest. It's not yet clear whether investigators believe Sayoc, a registered Republican, according to voting records, may have acted alone or had help. Additional details are expected to be released at a news briefing later Friday.
The FBI had moved the focus of their search for a suspect to south Florida, saying Thursday it appeared the pipe bombs first passed through the regional post office, meaning some if not all of the bombs were mailed from that area.
The U.S. Postal Service issued an official statement Friday, saying it was working closely with law enforcement partners on the probe.
"The Postal Service reminds our employees and customers to be safe, watchful and observant regarding the proper identification and disposition of suspicious packages."
TWO MORE PACKAGES; TOTAL HITS 12
The 11th and 12th suspected mail explosives were discovered in Manhattan and in Florida early Friday, one addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and one to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, law enforcement sources and officials familiar with the investigation tell News 4 and NBC News.
The device intercepted in Florida was addressed to the Camden, New Jersey, office of Booker, another high-profile Democrat. It was located at a sorting facility, Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center, in Opa-lacka.
The device seized in Manhattan was addressed to Clapper at CNN. Clapper was tapped to lead the national intelligence program by former President Barack Obama, another target of the packages, in 2010.
Chopper 4 Tracks NYPD Bomb Containment Truck
Clapper, speaking on CNN shortly after the device was secured, said, "This is definitely domestic terrorism, no question in my mind."
Acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, he said he was glad no one had been hurt or killed. Clapper also had a clear message: "This is not going to silence the administrations critics."
NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said the one seized at the Hell's Kitchen facility, which an alert postal worker flagged, appeared to be a pipe bomb consistent with the makeup of other devices seized across the country.
Area in Midtown Reopens After Suspicious Package Discovered
A Booker spokesperson declined comment and referred all questions to law enforcement. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that he was "saddened and angered" that Booker had been targeted. Murphy said the NJ Office of Homeland Security was working with federal, state and local partners on the response.
President Trump tangentially addressed the issue in a tweet after the suspected bombs were seized, writing, "Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this 'Bomb' stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows.'"
Hours later, after news of the arrest, Trump topped his remarks at an unrelated event by saying he was "pleased to inform" the nation the man was in custody. He called the mail bombs "despicable" and said they "have no place in our America," and offered applause to the various local, state and federal law enforcement departments who helped bring the suspect into custody.
THE TARGETS AND THE DEVICES
None of the apparent bombs detonated, no injuries were reported and authorities said Thursday it appeared some of the devices were flawed and incapable of exploding, though it wasn't clear if they were purposefully structured that way or it was just bad construction.
Three of the packages — two addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware and one addressed to Robert De Niro at a building he owns in Manhattan — were discovered in a flurry of frenzied hours Thursday.
The others came in the prior 72 hours: two were addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters of California; others were also addressed to Hillary Clinton, former President Obama, ex-Attorney General Eric Holder and former CIA Director John Brennan. The first was left at billionaire philanthropist George Soros' home in Westchester County on Monday.
12 Suspicious Package Incidents
Within five days, apparent explosive devices were detected in the mail addressed to Democratic politicians Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Corey Booker and Rep. Maxine Waters; billionaire philanthropist George Soros; the New York City offices of CNN and others. No one was hurt and investigators are working to determine if the incidents are all linked, though many of the devices appeared similar.
According to sources, the explosive devices were made from PVC pipe and contained a timer (likely a digital alarm clock) to set off the detonator. The powder contained in the bombs comes from pyrotechnics. X-rays show there was likely shrapnel inside the PVC pipe, law enforcement officials say.
The return address listed on each one was the Florida office of ex-Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Investigators are looking into any past incidents involving her office to determine if there could be any connections to the current probe, but have said there is no suggestion she had involvement.