John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, addressed reporters Friday morning on West 52nd Street after police disposed of an explosive device found at a USPS facility. Photo: NYPD
Florida man charged with mailing explosives
By Michael Garofalo
Hours after NYPD officers disposed of the third suspected mail bomb found in Manhattan in the last three days on Friday morning, federal agents in Florida arrested a suspect in connection with the series of suspicious packages sent this week to CNN’s Manhattan offices and prominent Democrats across the country.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., was arrested Friday morning in Plantation, Fla. and charged with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive and illegal mailing of explosives. Sayoc faces up to 58 years in prison if convicted.
Sayoc was arrested in the vicinity of his white van, which was plastered with stickers and images, including photos of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, images of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Democrats overlaid with crosshairs, and a graphic reading “CNN sucks.”
Earlier Friday, before Sayoc’s arrest, Manhattan’s West Side was again the site of heavy police activity related to the suspected explosive devices as officers responded to a suspicious package at a U.S. Postal Service facility on West 52nd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
The package was addressed to James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence who is a now a contributor at CNN. It was intended to be delivered to Clapper at CNN’s offices in the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle.
The suspicious package was the second addressed to the network’s Manhattan headquarters this week.
On Wednesday morning, the CNN’s offices were temporarily evacuated while police removed an apparent pipe bomb. The package discovered in the CNN mailroom was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan. (Brennan is in fact a commentator at another network, MSNBC.) Both Clapper and Brennan have frequently used their media platforms to criticize President Donald Trump.
Since Monday, law enforcement officials have recovered 13 suspicious packages around the country, each addressed to prominent Democratic political figures who have frequently criticized Trump, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden. Three of the packages were found in Manhattan — two addressed to CNN and a third found early Thursday morning at the Tribeca offices of actor and Trump critic Robert De Niro.
Thus far, none of the apparent explosive devices have detonated and there have been no injuries.
FBI Director Christopher Wray described the devices as IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, at a Friday afternoon press conference in Washington, DC. “Though we are still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices,” Wray said.
Investigators identified Sayoc’s fingerprint on an envelope sent to Rep. Maxine Waters and also identified DNA evidence possibly connected to Sayoc found on other envelopes, Wray said. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that additional packages could currently be in transit.
In comments at a leadership summit for young black Republicans at the White House, Trump said he was pleased that the suspect had been apprehended and praised federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for their efforts. “These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country,” Trump said.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who spoke in Washington, commended his officers and their federal counterparts for their work on the case. He acknowledged members of the public who contacted authorities and thanked the media for publicizing photos released by police. “New Yorkers don’t back down,” O’Neill said. “They step up every single time. We’ve been through things like this and much worse.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a Friday afternoon press conference, praised residents for their resilience in the face of the week’s events. “Fear can spread. Fear can overtake us. New Yorkers did not let that happen,” de Blasio said.
“Terrorism is never going to change who we are,” he added.