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Authorities identify man arrested in South Florida for spree of pipe-bomb mailings

The FBI released this poster on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, asking for the public's assistance in finding the people responsible for sending suspicious packages to multiple locations across the United States. The targets of the packages were some of the figures most frequently criticized by President Donald Trump. (FBI via AP)
Published Oct. 26, 2018

NEW YORK — A suspect was arrested and taken in for questioning Friday for the spate of pipe-bombing packages targeting a dozen top Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump, according to CNN.

The name of the man detained in connection with the pipe bomb scare is Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, law enforcement officials told the Associated Press.

Four officials familiar with the investigation identified the man to The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record.

It was not clear whether Sayoc had been formally charged in the rash of devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Sayoc was picked up in Opa-Locka, shortly after a pair of apparent pipe bomb packages sent to Sen. Cory Booker and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper were discovered Friday as the number of targets hit an even dozen in the ongoing domestic terrorism case, authorities said.

The latest targets of the fugitive plotter or plotters fit neatly with the list of previous recipients: New Jersey Democrat Booker is a frequent critic of President Trump, while Clapper was a member of the Obama administration.

The suspicious Clapper package was found Friday in an Upper West Side post office, while the Booker mailing turned up in a Florida mail facility.

The Clapper envelope — addressed to the Time Warner Center, home to CNN's offices — was discovered in a W. 52nd St. Facility, prompting police to shut down the busy Midtown stretch between Eighth and Ninth Avenues around 8 a.m.

Post Office employees immediately alerted the NYPD, with a chaotic scene of pedestrians, police and the press assembling at the intersection.

"It appears, at least in this case, they got the correct spelling of my name and they got the right network," said CNN contributor Tapper during a Friday appearance on the network. "More seriously, I'm really not surprised and in some sense, relieved.

"My wife and I are away from home right now. And our neighbors have been retrieving our mail. Been very concerned about them. So in one sense, it's kind of a relief, but it's not a surprise."

Police sources said the new packages "closely resembled" the ones that sent to the homes of former President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with other prominent Democrats including Rep. Maxine Waters, former Vice President Joe Biden, liberal philanthropist George Soros and Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro.

CNN had already received one package addressed to ex-CIA director John Brennan, a vociferous Trump critic and frequent guest on the news channel.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, speaking at a Friday morning police event, expressed certainty the case would be solved and arrests will be made.

"Once again the eyes of the world are on New York City and the New York City Police Department and our law enforcement partner," he said. "There is no doubt in my mind that we will in due course identify the person or persons responsible."

President Trump, for a second straight day, unleashed his venom on the network twice targeted by the suspect or suspects behind the five-day terror spree. He made no mention of law enforcement efforts to locate the would-be bomber.

"Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it's just not Presidential!'" read a rambling Trump tweet sent before sunrise.

De Niro, the star of "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas," released a Friday statement urging Americans to make their voices heard in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

"There's something more powerful than bombs, and that's your vote," said De Niro, who famously announced "F—- Trump" at this year's Tony Awards. "People must vote!"

The suspicious Manhattan package was removed around 10 a.m. and placed into a containment vehicle that delivered the device to the NYPD complex at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx. The first 10 devices — discovered in New York, Delaware, Florida, California and Washington, D.C. — were shipped to the FBI's Quantico lab for analysis as a bevy of federal agencies and the NYPD continued to search for the suspect behind the packages.

Authorities acknowledged that some of the packages were sent from Florida. The Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed late Thursday that its bomb squad and K-9 unit were involved in a search of a mail facility in Opa-Locka, where some of the explosives are believed to have been mailed from.

"It's been a tough week in the city and I think even though people have had every reason to be concerned," said Mayor de Blasio on his Friday radio show. "I have to say at the beginning New Yorkers have been absolutely outstanding in how they've dealt with this."

Authorities acknowledged Thursday that additional undelivered packages could still be in the mail. All the packages included crude bombs fashioned from PVC pipes and sent inside non-descript manila envelope, with pre-printed addresses and a half-dozen stamps — each bearing an American flag.

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