FBI, sheriff’s sergeant detail mail-bomb package case in Sacramento
The man suspected of mailing more than a dozen bombs nationwide to CNN, prominent Democratic politicians and others allegedly sent one to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, that was discovered in Sacramento on Friday, authorities say.
The FBI and Sacramento County Sheriff’s officials spent much of Friday searching a south Sacramento post office after a postal worker spotted a suspicious package and reported it to authorities at about 7:44 a.m., officials said.
“We have now rendered the device safe,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton told reporters about five hours after the discovery.
No one was injured, and authorities said they still were deciding whether their investigation of the package would be completed at the FBI’s Sacramento office or at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
The discovery came at roughly the same time federal authorities in Florida were arresting Cesar Altieri Sayoc, a 56-year-old man suspected of mailing the packages this week to critics of President Trump.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced the arrest Friday in Washington, D.C., and said the investigation that began Monday stretched from New York to California, where the 13th suspected device was discovered in a package addressed to Harris.
“We can confirm that 13 improvised explosive devices were sent to various individuals across the country,” Wray said.
Although authorities did not mention Harris at the announcement, her office and McGregor Scott, the U.S. Attorney in Sacramento, confirmed the package was under investigation by the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“The FBI and ATF have responded to the mailing facility and are conducting a thorough investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office stands by and ready as needed,” Scott said.
Federal court documents described the package mailed to Harris as “largely identical with respect to size and shape” to the others mailed around the country.
Copies of the criminal complaint against Sayoc and an FBI agent’s affidavit, reported online by the Associated Press, refer to Harris as one of “Sayoc’s Targets” and describe “the Harris Package” discovered at the Colonial post office at 6024 44th Street.
“Based on my review of documents and records, my conversations with other law enforcement officers, and my involvement in this investigation, I have learned that on or about October 26, 2018, a package addressed to “KAMALIA(sic) HARRIS” was recovered in Sacramento, California (the “Harris Package”),” the affidavit states.
That package was described in court documents as being similar to the other 12, consisting of “approximately six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring, and energetic material.” The mail bombs have been the subject of an intense national manhunt since the first one was discovered Monday at the New York home of philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros. Since then, investigators have been called out to numerous bomb scares, including one earlier Friday in Sacramento and another in Burlingame.
In the first Sacramento incident, a postal worker at a facility on Marysville Road reported a suspicious package that later was determined to be a false alarm.
Another bomb scare was being investigated in Burlingame, where authorities discovered a suspicious package addressed to Tom Steyer, the billionaire who has championed a public drive aimed at impeaching President Trump.
“We’re thankful that everyone we work with is safe,” Steyer later wrote on Twitter. “We are seeing a systematic attack on our democracy that extends much further than just one isolated terrorist in Florida. That’s why we are running an impeachment petition to end the culture of lawlessness in our country.”
Wray cautioned that there still may be other packages arriving at Postal Service facilities and asked the public to remain vigilant.
“Today’s arrest does not mean we are out of the woods,” Wray said. “There may be other packages in transit now.”
The discovery of the suspicious package mailed to Harris sent the sheriff’s bomb squad and other investigators racing to the south Sacramento post office.
“We are investigating reports of a suspicious package in South Sacramento,” Hampton said early Friday. “It resembles the ones that have been reported throughout the country.”
As hours passed by, authorities cordoned off the post office with crime scene tape, went door to door warning residents to stay inside and delivered a robot to search the facility. About a dozen people were evacuated from the post office, which is closed until further notice.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg expressed relief that no one was hurt in the incident.
“Relieved that @ and others targeted in this bomb scare are safe,” the mayor tweeted. “You should never have to fear violence for standing up for what you believe.”
Harris was scheduled to give a speech at Spelman College in Atlanta on Friday afternoon, and her office issued a statement thanking law enforcement for its efforts and asking for unity.
“Earlier today, Senator Harris’ office was informed that a suspicious package, similar to those that have been sent to other elected officials, was sent to our Sacramento district office,” the statement read. “Our understanding is that a trained postal employee identified the package at a Sacramento mail facility and reported it to the authorities.
“Fortunately, nobody was injured. Senator Harris is enormously grateful to law enforcement officials across the country who have worked so hard over the past week to keep our fellow citizens safe. At this moment, it is incumbent upon leaders across the political spectrum to take seriously the power they hold. It is the responsibility of our leaders to use their role as public figures to elevate our discourse and bring people together.”
The senator, a potential contender in the 2020 presidential race, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. Other targets of the packages have included noted Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as actor and Trump critic Robert DeNiro.
Suspected mail bombs have been sent to:
- Former President Barack Obama
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Rep. Maxine Waters of California
- Former Attorney General Eric Holder
- Former CIA Director John Brennan
- Actor Robert De Niro
- George Soros, the billionaire Democratic donor
- CNN offices