A Florida resident was identified Friday as the suspect who sent a dozen pipe bomb packages to prominent critics of President Donald Trump, several law enforcement officials said.
DNA evidence played a role in the arrest of 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc Jr., the officials said.
Sayoc’s white van, which had pictures of Trump and the presidential seal plastered to the windows, was seized by the officials and hauled off to a secure facility.
In Washington, Trump praised the FBI and Secret Service for the swift arrest of the suspect.
“It’s like a needle in a haystack,” Trump said. “And they have done an incredible, incredible job.”
Sayoc has a criminal record in Florida and was arrested in 2002 for making a bomb threat, according to Miami-Dade County court records. It was not clear how the case was adjudicated. There were also two arrests, one in 1992 and the other in 2014, for petit theft.
In the latter theft case, Sayoc tried to walk out of a Walmart with a shopping cart filled with $239 worth of merchandise, according to an arrest affidavit.
The suspect also appeared to have money troubles. Records revealed he filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and had a property foreclosed on in 2009.
A registered Republican, Sayoc had previously lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, and Brooklyn, New York, according to records.
A cousin of the suspect told NBC News she was stunned by Sayoc’s arrest.
“Oh my God,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, said. “He’s always been a very nice, thoughtful person. I don’t know anything about this. It’s shocking.”
The cousin said she hadn’t seen Sayoc for two decades but that he called her recently after her father died.
“It was mostly just small talk,” she said. “How’s your family, that kind of thing. I don’t really know that much about him. We have a very big family.”
The dramatic development came on the same day that two new suspicious packages were found, one addressed to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and the other to James Clapper, former director of national intelligence.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.