FBI announced on Friday that it has arrested Cesar Sayoc in Florida. US media report that Sayoc could be a Trump supporter, based on his comments on social media and because a vehicle believed to be his is covered with stickers of the president.
Some observers say Trump’s belligerent words and actions have triggered the incident because many of the targets are people the president has attacked in his speeches.
Trump denounced the incident at a White House gathering on Friday. He said the “terrorizing acts are despicable,” and that “we must never allow political violence to take root in America.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) agents used DNA and a fingerprint to identify the Florida man suspected of sending at least 14 bombs to critics of US President Donald Trump days ahead of congressional elections.
Cesar Sayoc has been charged with five federal crimes including threats against former presidents and faces up to 48 years in prison if found guilty, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. He earlier said the suspect could face 58 years.
“We will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially political violence,” he said.
Authorities are still investigating whether other people were involved and did not rule out the possibility of further arrests or more explosive devices in the mail.
The FBI agents arrested Sayoc, 56, in Plantation, Florida and also hauled away a white van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, the slogan “CNN SUCKS,” and images of Democratic figures with red crosshairs over their faces.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the news conference that fingerprints on a package sent to Representative Maxine Waters belonged to Sayoc.
He also said there could be other packages.
Announcing the arrest by the FBI to a cheering audience at the White House, Trump said such “terrorizing acts” were despicable and had no place in the United States.
“We must never allow political violence to take root in America — cannot let it happen,” Trump said. “And I’m committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it and to stop it now.”
Sayoc’s home address was listed in public records as an upscale gated apartment complex in the seaside town of Aventura, Florida.
According to the records, he is a registered Republican with a lengthy criminal past — including once making a bomb threat — and a history of posting inflammatory broadsides on social media against Trump’s political foes.
Sayoc was being held at an FBI processing centre in Miramar, Florida, CNN said. He was expected to be taken to the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami and will likely make his first appearance before a judge on Monday, according to former Assistant US Attorney David Weinstein.
A federal law enforcement source said charges would likely be brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Sayoc transferred to New York City.
Four more suspicious packages were found on Friday, according to officials and media reports, bringing the total to 14. None of the devices has detonated, and no injuries have been reported.
The intended recipients of packages discovered on Friday included Democratic US Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Democratic US Senator Kamala Harris of California, and Democratic donor Tom Steyer.