Bomb-like devices addressed to Sen. Corey Booker and James Clapper


Published 12:31 PM EDT Oct 26, 2018

Bomb-like devices addressed to Sen. Corey Booker and James Clapper

A 56-year-old Florida man is in custody and is expected to be charged in connection with a sweeping investigation of the 12 bomb-like devices addressed to prominent Democrats, according to the Department of Justice and an unnamed official. 

Law enforcement officials identified the man as Cesar Sayoc, who was born in Brooklyn, New York. Records show Sayoc has a criminal history, including a 2015 arrest in Broward County, Florida, for petty theft and probation violation.

The total number of devices reached a dozen Friday after two more suspicious packages were recovered, one in Florida addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and the other in New York addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

A package addressed to Clapper was recovered at a Manhattan postal facility. Like some of the previous packages addressed to prominent Democrats, the one found in New York City on Friday had the office of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the return address, a photo obtained by CBS News showed.

The nation has been on heightened alert in the wake of bomb-like devices addressed to top government officials, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

The suspicious package intended for Clapper was spotted by a postal worker at the Radio City Station postal facility at around 8:15 a.m. Realizing the package looked like the previous ones found this week, the employee contacted U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and they contacted the NYPD and FBI.

NYPD Bomb Squad officers scanned the package and saw what appeared to be a pipe bomb, similar to the others recovered this week, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a Manhattan news conference.

The bomb squad relocated the package in its total containment vessel to the NYPD facility at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx. After being secured there, the package will be sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis, Miller said.

When the package was initially discovered, NYPD closed a Manhattan intersection to traffic and pedestrians. The NYPD told the public to avoid the area near W. 52nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues as police investigated. 

The device addressed to Booker was recovered at a mail sorting distribution center in Opa Locka, Florida, which has drawn intense investigative interest in recent days, as authorities believe that many of the suspected explosive devices passed through the state, a law enforcement official said.

Investigators are continuing to review mail streams in and out of Florida, attempting to pinpoint locations where the parcels may have originated, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly.

Sen. Booker, a likely presidential contender in 2020, had no public events scheduled Friday. When contacted for comment, his office directed calls to law enforcement, citing the ongoing investigation.

On Wednesday, after news of the initial wave of packages broke, Booker, 49, tweeted: "These targeted acts of terror are despicable cowardice."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cancelled a planned trip to Louisville, Kentucky, Friday to ensure that all federal law enforcement resources, including the aircraft and personnel required for the attorney general's travel, were being devoted to the investigation.

Sessions was scheduled to speak in Louisville about the federal government's efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

"I can assure you that we are dedicating every available resource to this effort," Sessions said Friday before addressing a conference in Washington. "I am receiving frequent updates from (FBI) Director Chris Wray and his team. And I can tell you this: we will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice."

In New York, police have investigated multiple unattended packages in recent days and are urging the public to report anything that could be deemed dangerous.

On Thursday, the NYPD Bomb Squad handled multiple unattended packages inside a mall at 10 Columbus Circle before declaring the area safe. Police urged the public to "say something if you see something," in a tweet.

New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill said in a news conference earlier Thursday that the devices were not being treated as a hoax, describing them as "suspected explosive devices."

The powder found in packaging in New York addressed to CNN's offices wasn’t a biological weapon, but further testing was being done, O’Neill said. The devices were being examined at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.

FBI Assistant Director Bill Sweeney on Thursday said the investigation is nationwide and noted that more devices could be discovered. “It does remain possible that further packages have been or could be mailed," he said. "These devices should be considered dangerous.”

Kevin Barry, a former member of New York Police Department's bomb squad and a former director of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, expected the FBI analyses to be focused on both the design and recovery of physical evidence.

Testing would gauge the functionality of the devices, check the type of pipe used and examine the powder to determine whether it is high explosive, low explosive or a chemical substance intended to be dispersed when the devices were triggered, Barry said.

More: Authorities eye Florida in hunt for source of suspicious packages, as security officials worry danger 'not over'

More: Another two potential bombs found: What we know now about the 12 suspicious packages

Contributing: Herb Jackson, Hannan Adely and Phaedra Trethan for the USA TODAY Network

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