Suspect arrested after explosive devices sent to Trump critics and CNN
Mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc was arrested today in south Florida and charged with making threats against former presidents and other explosive-related crimes.
Our live coverage of the arrest has ended, but here's everything you need to know:
- The arrest: Sayoc was arrested in a south Florida auto parts store Friday morning. The 56-year-old Florida resident has a criminal history.
- The charges: He was charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, Illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers. Sayoc faces up to 48 years in prison.
- The packages: Authorities have intercepted at least 13 packages sent to prominent Democratic politicians, donors and CNN offices in New York, officials said. (Read about the packages and who they were addressed to here.)
- The devices: The explosive devices were nearly identical and consisted of a six-inch PVC pipe, a small clock, battery, wiring and energetic material, according to the complaint against Sayoc. Some of the mailings sent to several political figures included photographs of the targets with a red X marked across their faces.
- What President Trump said: He condemned the serial bomb mailings as "terrorizing acts." He said: "We must never allow political violence to take root in America. I'm committed to doing everything in my power as President to stop it."
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, the mail bomb suspect arrested Friday, has struggled for years with “a lack of comprehension of reality,” his former lawyer told CNN.
Attorney Ronald S. Lowy said Sayoc’s mother and sisters have urged him to seek medical treatment, but he has refused.
“He thinks there’s nothing wrong with him,” Lowy said shortly after meeting with the suspect’s family.
Sayoc has been estranged from the family for the past several years, Lowy said, and his mother “can’t understand his (Sayoc's) behavior or views."
Though FBI searched the mother’s home on Friday, Lowy predicted it would be “a waste of time” since Sayoc hadn’t visited the residence for at least three years.
Lowy said the closest he came to getting treatment for Sayoc was in 2004 during a drug case that involved steroids. He said he negotiated with prosecutors to have it charged as a narcotics case so his client could get court mandated-treatment.
It was not immediately clear whether he actually received such treatment.
Lowy, who said he now represents Sayoc’s mother and two sisters, said they are struggling to come to terms with the allegations.
“It’s a very emotional time for them,” he said.
A van in Plantation, Florida, towed away from the scene of bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc's arrest had images of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as well as a "CNN Sucks" sticker, video footage shows.
Sayoc had been kicked out by his parents and was living in the white van widely seen in pictures Friday, according to a law enforcement official.
It caught the eye of Michael Hebert, who filmed footage of what appeared to be the van outside an LA Fitness gym in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 18.
Hebert, who goes to the gym, said he'd seen Sayoc there a number of times and had seen the van parked outside.
It stood out to him because of the "political tone," Hebert told CNN, "which is wild regardless of your (political) views."
"It's just too much political stuff," Hebert said, adding it seemed "a little bit extreme."
Here's the footage:
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at a campaign event in Roswell, New Mexico, addressed the suspicious packages and the suspect's arrest on Friday afternoon.
"We will never allow our political differences to justify threats or acts of violence — not now, not ever," he said, adding that President Trump had "made clear these acts as despicable and they have no place in our society."
Pence also praised the "amazing job" of investigators and law enforcement, and called for national unity.
As the President said today now’s the time to show the world how truly great we are. That is why by recognizing what unites us in these United States will always be greater than anything that could ever divide us. Every American stands united against anyone anywhere who would use threats or violence for any reason."
Former Attorney General Eric Holder thanked law enforcement and postal workers for their response to the suspicious packages in a tweet moments ago.
"The work you did is reflective of the excellence and dedication that you always bring to the job — and that the American people always appreciate," he said.
One of the suspicious packages found Wednesday was addressed to Holder, but it was returned to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office in Florida, since her address was listed as the return address.
Here's his tweet:
Bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc will appear Monday at 2 p.m. ET in a Miami federal court, according to the Southern District of New York.
Sayoc was charged Friday with five federal crimes and faces up to 48 years in prison in connection to improvised explosive devices sent to prominent Democratic politicians, donors and CNN offices in New York.
President Trump acknowledged the suspect in a string of bomb mailings had pictures of the President on his van, but did not disavow the support of the suspect.
“I did not see my face on the van,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.
At the arrest scene Friday morning, a sticker-covered van was towed away. It featured images of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
“I heard he was a person who prefers me over others, but I did not see that,” Trump said.
“There’s no blame, there’s no anything,” he added.
The President then referenced a shooting last year at Republicans’ congressional baseball practice, carried out by a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“If you look at what happened to Steve Scalise, that was from a supporter of another party,” Trump said.
Asked by CNN if he disavowed the support of the suspect, he did not answer.