US mail bomb suspect named as Cesar Sayoc, Trump supporter with long criminal history
A fervent Donald Trump supporter has been identified as the suspect in a nationwide mail-bomb scare targeting prominent critics of the president.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, a former body builder with a string of criminal convictions, was arrested on Friday, as the number of explosive devices uncovered across the country widened to 13.
Mr Trump vowed "swift and certain justice" as he condemned the attempted "terrorising attacks" and praised the "incredible" work of the country's law enforcement agencies.
At a campaign rally later on Friday night, he accused the media of using the actions of the suspect to score political points against him.
"We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party," Mt Trump said at the political rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. The crowd yelled: "CNN sucks."
Details, meanwhile, continued to emerge about Sayoc. Sixteen years ago, Sayoc had threatened to blow up his local electricity company, telling a representative “it would be worse than September 11th” if they ever turned off his electricity.
A representative from Florida Power and Light told the Miami police in August 2002 that Sayoc “threatened to blow up” the FP&L building, and threatened the representative.
He was sentenced to a one-year probation.
Sayoc also used social media to make threats, attacking Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg and sending American Football player Colin Kaepernick a picture of a beheaded goat, saying “see you real soon.”
Mr Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation, around 30 miles north of Miami.
He is a registered Republican with social media accounts containing messages supporting Mr Trump and promoting conspiracy theories about George Soros, the billionaire political donor who was the first targeted this week by a package bomb.
He appeared to be to living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness centre.
Mr Sayoc's white van, which was seized by authorities, was plastered in images of Mr Trump, along with a "CNN SUCKS" sign and a photo of Hillary Clinton with a target superimposed on her face.
Mr Trump said he had not seen pictures of his face on Mr Sayoc's van, saying: “I heard he was a person who prefers me over others, but I did not see that”.
He also suggested on Twitter that the threats had hurt the Republicans in the polls.
Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, said Mr Sayoc had been charged with five crimes, including the illegal mailing of explosives.
A conviction on the charges could result in up to 48 years in prison, he said. Mr Sessions said he did not comment on the suspect's motive but said he "appears to be a partisan".
Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, said Mr Sayoc's finger print was found on one of the devices addressed to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. There was also a possible DNA link with Mr Sayoc and two of the packages, he said.
Mr Wray said there may be more packages that have not yet been discovered, as he warned "these are not hoax devices".
Authorities were still uncovering new potential explosive devices on Friday, as it emerged two packages addressed to a Democrat senator and prominent donor were found in California.
The nationwide manhunt began earlier this week after a series of explosive devices addressed to leading Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Mrs Clinton were discovered.
The cable news network CNN and prominent critics of Mr Trump including the actor Robert De Niro were also targeted.
At the White House, Mr Trump said: "These terrorising acts are despicable and have no place in our country.
"We must never allow political violence to take root in America."
He called for Americans to "unify", saying "we are united together in love and peace as fellow citizens".
However, he went on to hit out at the level of negative coverage he receives in the media, saying: "I get attacked all the time. Come to think of it, who gets attacked more than me?
"I can do the greatest thing for our country, and on the networks and on different things it will show bad. I won't use examples because today is sort of a special day because we caught somebody."
As he spoke, chants of "CNN sucks" and "fake news" could be heard from the audience, who were attending a Young Black leadership event.
The spree of attempted attacks began on Monday, when a device was delivered to the home of Mr Soros.
On Tuesday a suspicious package was discovered addressed to the Clintons' house in Chappaqua, New York. On Wednesday a similar device addressed to the home of the Obamas was intercepted in Washington, DC.
A package addressed to John Brennan, the former CIA director, was later found in the mail room of CNN's New York newsroom.
The offices of Democratic congresswomen Deborah Wasserman Schultz in Florida and Maxine Walters in California, along with Eric Holder, the former attorney general were also targeted.
The packages had Ms Wasserman Schultz’s office named as a return address on the envelope, suggesting the would-be bomber had particular animosity towards the congresswoman.
On Thursday two packages addressed to Mr Biden, Mr Obama's Vice President, were intercepted at mail facilities in Delaware. Another was found at De Niro's upmarket Manhattan restaurant.
On Friday, a device addressed to Democrat senator Cory Booker, a potential future presidential candidate, was found at a mail facility in Southern Florida, where many of the packages are reported to have originated.
Shortly afterwards a device bearing the name of James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, and addressed to CNN's newsroom was found at a Manhattan postal centre. Mr Clapper occasionally contributes to the cable news network.
Officials said all 13 IEDs were "largely similar in design and construction", according to the FBI. Each consisted of around six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring, and energetic material. Some of the packages also included photographs of the targets marked with a red "X".
All the packages were similar in appearance, delivered in manila envelopes with printed addresses and several stamps.
On Friday night authorities were investigating two more suspicious packages in California - one addressed to Democrat senator Kamala Harris and another addressed to billionaire Tom Steyer, who has called for Mr Trump's impeachment.
Mr Clapper called the attacks "domestic terrorism" and blamed Mr Trump for the "coarseness and incivility of the dialogue in this country."
Mr Trump also drew criticism for tweeting earlier on Friday: "Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!"