Law enforcement officials arrested and charged 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, Jr. on Friday, in connection with at least a dozen pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, Rep. Maxine Waters, the Clintons, and philanthropist George Soros, all frequent targets of public attacks by President Donald Trump.
Sayoc, who maintains an address in Aventura, FL, outside of Miami, was arrested Friday morning outside an AutoZone in nearby Plantation, FL, reportedly to avoid any potential violent confrontation in his home.
According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who spoke at a press conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray and other law enforcement officials Friday afternoon, Sayoc was charged with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosives, illegal mailing of explosives, and making threats against a president. He faces up to 48 years in prison. Sayoc was arrested after fingerprints on a pipe bomb intended for Rep. Waters matched those from an earlier arrest.
When asked by a reporter why Sayoc allegedly targeted Democrats, Sessions replied, “I don’t know, other than what you might normally expect. He appears to be a partisan.”
Wray confirmed that the agency had found 13 devices, each device containing a six-inch length of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring, and “energetic material.” Although the agency was still analyzing the devices to determine why they did not explode, Wray said they were not “hoax” devices.
Sayoc’s presence across various social media platforms paint the picture of a conservative fanatic who frequently shared far-right images, and obsessed with President Trump. On a since-deactivated Facebook page, registered under the name Cesar Altieri Randazzo, Sayoc posted numerous videos of himself at a 2016 Trump rally.
A Twitter account which was later suspended also featured a video of Sayoc at a recent Trump rally, chanting the president’s name:
Following his arrest, FBI officials confiscated Sayoc’s large white van, its windows covered in images and bumper stickers depicting right-wing conspiracy theories, including several images of prominent Democrats with the crosshairs of a sniper sight over their faces.
Sayoc had an extensive criminal record prior to his capture on Friday, according to Florida court documents. In addition to multiple arrests for theft, as well as traffic and drug violations, Sayoc was arrested in 2002 after making a bomb threat to a Florida power utility company, saying “it would be worse than Sept. 11.” He was sentenced to a year of probation.
In 1994, he was arrested on charges of domestic assault against a woman believed to have been his grandmother, who subsequently requested that complaint to be dismissed. In 2012, Sayoc filed for bankruptcy, claiming assets of $4,175, and liabilities nearly five times that amount.
Speaking with the New York Times, Aventura resident David Cypkin remarked that he’d frequently seen Sayoc’s van parked at a local shopping mall in the early morning.
“Sometimes the door would be ajar or a window would be open,” Cypkin told the paper. “Which indicated to me that maybe somebody was living in the van.”
President Donald Trump discussed Sayoc’s arrest during a rambling political event on Friday afternoon, where he switched from calling Sayoc “he” to the much more ambiguous “them, him, her,” going so far as to add at one point “whoever it may be.”
The FBI has not named any additional suspects in the attempted bombing campaign. You can read the criminal complaint against Sayoc below.
Additional reporting contributed by Diana Moskovitz.
Update, 4:33 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect the suspension of a Twitter account which seemingly belongs to Sayoc.