After a week of mail bombs being sent to prominent Democrats and other critics of President Trump, the suspect has been caught. According to law enforcement officials, Cesar Sayoc Jr. of Aventura, Fla., was taken into custody on the morning of Oct. 26 by FBI agents.
The first package was sent to George Soros, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor and billionaire who frequently donates to Democrats. Soros is critical of President Trump and is often a target for far-right conspiracy theorists. President Trump, Republican members of Congress, and Fox News publicly critique Soros as well. An explosive device intended for Hillary Clinton was found Tuesday, Oct. 23 by the Secret Service. A bomb designed to reach President Obama was intercepted on Wednesday, Oct 24. In total, 14 bombs were sent by mail to targets. Those who were intended to receive the explosives include: former Vice President Joseph Biden, actor Robert De Niro, Representative Maxine Waters of California, Senator Kamala Harris of California, former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Democrat-donor Tom Steyer.
Luckily, none of the bombs exploded — authorities are still trying to figure out why this is the case. The FBI called the bombs “potentially destructive devices.” FBI director Christopher A. Wray cautioned that it is possible there are more bombs that have not yet been discovered. There is currently an FBI investigation into Sayoc and the possibility of more bombs. President Trump responded to these events: “These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country.” Later in the week, however, President Trump shifted the focus from Sayoc to the media, saying that the news media was trying to use Sayoc political leanings to, “score political points against me and the Republican Party.”
Sayoc was an outspoken supporter of President Trump and an active member of right-wing social media groups. The packages sent by Sayoc contained photographs of the intended targets with big red Xs across their faces. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated at a news conference Wednesday, Oct. 24, that the defendant “had been charged with five federal crimes, including the interstate transportation of an explosive, the illegal mailing of explosives and making a threat against a former president and others.” These crimes could lead to approximately 50 years in federal prison.
According to federal officials, the suspect had a list of 100 different targets. These targets have been notified by the authorities and have taken the proper security measures to ensure their safety. This list of targets suggests that if Sayoc had not been captured, there could have been a significant number of dangerous mail bombs sent out. Although CNN was the only news outlet that received a package, the list of targets included an editor at the New York Times, which makes it seem that Sayoc was intending to target media outlets.
It is important to point out that all of the individuals who sent packages were outspoken critics of President Trump. President Trump has made several critical statements about these individuals and has used provocative language about many of them. He encouraged the infamous “lock her up” chant in reference to Hillary Clinton, and he has also tweeted about a false conspiracy theory referring to Soros’s role in the Kavanaugh hearings. Although President Trump’s statements have undoubtedly incited the far-right, it is unclear if Trump’s statements about the targets were causal to Sayoc’s decision to mail the explosives.