Man in custody in connection with mail bombs has ties to North Carolina

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MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- The suspect arrested in connection with packages containing suspected explosives was identified as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, the Associated Press reports.

The arrest follows a week of investigation into the stream of packages sent to high-profile Democrats including former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

WSOC reported a man with the same name and same birth date lived in Mecklenburg County, court records confirm.

Public records showed Sayoc had an address in south Charlotte in the year 2000, WCNC reports.

What appears to be Sayoc's LinkedIn account says he attended both UNC-Charlotte and Brevard College in western North Carolina. Although the profile mentions High Point University, the school said he never attended HPU.

WBTV in Charlotte tweeted that former UNC Charlotte Soccer Coach Bob Warming said Sayoc was a walk-on player for the 49ers in 1983.

Sayoc attended Brevard College in the fall of 1980 for three semesters, a spokeswoman from the college confirmed. He did not graduate from Brevard College, she said.

It was not clear whether Sayoc had been formally charged in the rash of devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post reported that, based on Florida records, Sayoc had a long criminal history including a 2002 bomb threat arrest. He was also previously charged with larceny and fraud.

Numerous law enforcement were on scene at an AutoZone business in Plantation, Florida, in Broward County. A van covered in stickers was towed away from the scene by a police escort. Law enforcement covered the van with a blue tarp.

More details are expected to be released during a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

DNA helped identify suspect

DNA found on at least one of the packages helped investigators identify Sayoc, law enforcement officials said. He was not previously known to the Secret Service, law enforcement sources said, but Florida records show a string of arrests dating back to the early 1990s.

Notable among them is a 2002 arrest by Miami police for an offense described in online records as a "threat to bomb" and "threaten to discharge destructive device."

The online records do not provide details about the case. They show that Sayoc pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation. There is also a notation about the ajudication being withheld.

The records show a total of eight arrests for offenses, including grand theft, battery, fraud and drug possession, as well as multiple probation violations.

The adjudication of each of the arrests could not immediately be determined from the summary of offenses provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Sayoc appears to have pleaded no contest to some offenses. Prosecutors appear to have dropped charges in other matters.

New packages Friday

The FBI said Friday that the package addressed to Booker was discovered in Florida and is "similar in appearance to the others." Sources told CNN the package was addressed to the senator's Camden, New Jersey, office. Booker confirmed the package was intended for him but declined to comment further to CNN. The packages intended for Harris and Steyer were discovered in California and are similar to the other packages, law enforcement sources said.

The package intended for Clapper also was addressed to CNN, a law enforcement official said. It was found at a New York City postal facility and was similar to the other packages, the official added.

The Clapper package arrived in a manila envelope with six US flag stamps, similar to other packages discovered this week. The return address is that of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Florida office, which was the address on packages intended for former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire and Democratic donor George Soros, actor Robert De Niro, former Attorney General Eric Holder, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former CIA Director John Brennan. There is no information that suggests Wasserman Schultz sent the packages.

Law enforcement authorities are treating the bombs as a domestic terror matter. The motive is unknown, but the recipients are all prominent targets of right-wing criticism and, in many cases, of Trump himself.

A number of similar crude explosive devices have been sent since Monday to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, other top political figures and CNN’s New York offices.

Questions for investigators

By Thursday night, the investigation had worked its way to a mail facility in Opa-locka, Florida, located about 13 miles north of Miami.

One key question authorities are asking is why none of the apparent bombs detonated, a law enforcement source said, raising questions about the skill and motive of the bombmaker.

The FBI called them "potentially destructive devices" -- so either the bombmaker was good enough to ensure none would go off and never intended them to explode, or they were poorly constructed.

The presence of what is believed to be pyrotechnic powder is one reason why authorities consider them to be potentially destructive, though it appears they were handled through the postal system -- where they were jostled and moved -- without any explosion.

Outside experts have pointed to the lack of a triggering mechanism, suggesting they were never meant to explode.

The devices included very common components, making it more difficult to get clues from the signature of the bomb. But the components could have still provided clues -- like the clock and the tape used.

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