U.S. mail bomb suspect ordered held without bail
1st court appearance comes hours after another similar package intercepted in Atlanta
The man accused of mailing 14 pipe bombs to prominent critics of U.S. President Donald Trump was ordered held without bail as the FBI confirmed a package similar to the ones discovered last week had been intercepted Monday. It was addressed to CNN in Atlanta.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, his salt-and-pepper hair pulled back into a ponytail, remained largely silent in a Florida courtroom, only acknowledging Judge Edwin Torres's reading of the charges against him.
Shackled and wearing a beige jumpsuit, Sayoc began to tear up, and the three attorneys with him stood shoulder to shoulder to obscure reporters and photographers from seeing him.
Sayoc was scheduled to appear in court in Miami again on Friday morning.
An official told The Associated Press that Sayoc kept a list of elected officials and others who investigators believe were intended targets.
The official said authorities had recovered soldering equipment, a printer, and stamps similar to those used on the package bombs in the investigation into Sayoc. Authorities believe Sayoc put the explosives together in his van.
The official wasn't authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP. The official also said that, as part of the investigation, authorities were scrutinizing Sayoc's social media posts.
Just hours before his court appearance, bomb squads were called to a post office in Atlanta about a suspicious parcel.
The FBI did not identify to whom the most recent package was addressed, but CNN President Jeff Zucker announced that a suspicious package addressed to the cable television network was intercepted Monday at an Atlanta post office.
Zucker said there was no imminent danger to the CNN Center. Another package was delivered to the cable network's New York offices last week, causing an evacuation.
Sayoc is accused of sending bubble-wrapped manila envelopes to Democrats including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, as well as George Soros, the philanthropist of a number of leftish causes who figures in several conspiracy theories propagated by hard right web sites.
The packages were intercepted from Delaware to California. At least some listed a return address of U.S. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee.
She represents the Florida district where the former male stripper, pizza driver and strip club DJ lived in an older van covered with bumper stickers praising Trump, disparaging Democrats and CNN and showing rifle crosshairs over liberals like Clinton and filmmaker Michael Moore.
Authorities did not immediately say who might be responsible for sending the most recent package to CNN, but law enforcement officials have said they believe the packages were staggered and more could be discovered.
Sayoc was arrested Friday outside a South Florida auto parts store after investigators said they identified him through fingerprint and DNA evidence. Sayoc's case is expected to be moved to New York, where he will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, officials said.
Authorities say Sayoc faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all charges. None of the bombs exploded, and no one was injured.
The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president. - Sarah Sanders, White House spokesperson
The mass mailings have heightened political tensions ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 6 that will determine the composition of Congress as well as state houses.
Trump, in a series of tweets on Monday morning, continued to focus his attention on media coverage.
"The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our country," he said.
Instead, Trump said, it is the "inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news" that is driving much of the heated rhetoric in the country.
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders defended the president's comments during a briefing today, saying, "The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts."
She added, "The only person responsible for carrying it out, either of these heinous acts, were the individuals that carried them out."
With files from Reuters