FBI closes off a Plantation AutoZone after suspected pipe bomb mailer was arrested
If his Twitter accounts and alleged targets are any indication, Cesar Sayoc was obsessed with Andrew Gillum.
Sayoc, the man identified by law enforcement sources as the suspect believed to have sent about a dozen rudimentary pipe bombs to Democrats and Donald Trump critics in the mail this week, tweeted frequently about the Democratic nominee for governor.
Starting abruptly on Sept. 30, Sayoc began using his @hardrockintlent account to repeatedly trash Gillum as a socialist and a failed mayor. Amid disturbing images of ravaged body parts, alligators and a reference to a news story about a woman who was killed by an alligator in Davie, Sayoc tweeted about Gillum over and over again.
Over the last five days alone, around the time the Secret Service began intercepting suspicious packages addressed to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Sayoc tweeted 22 images of Gillum, including one with him appearing as a puppet of Democratic billionaire and Gillum donor George Soros — who was the first to receive a pipe bomb in the mail this week.
On Friday, another prominent Gillum donor, Tom Steyer, also confirmed that authorities intercepted a suspicious package in California that had been addressed to him. The package addressed to Clinton’s Chappaqua, N.Y., home, meanwhile, was sent while she was in Florida raising money for Gillum.
Another likely related account was similarly loaded with pictures of Gillum and statements about the Tallahassee mayor. But Gillum has not been told of any threats against him, he says.
“Our top priority is ensuring our campaign, our volunteers, and our public events are safe, and we have taken strong security precautions. We have no evidence that any of our offices have been targeted, but we are in close contact with the authorities as this situation develops,” he said. “It is fortunate that the evil intent of the bomber has not been realized.”
Gillum also called on politicians “to cease the dangerous rhetoric of hatred and division that is poisoning our society.”
Sayoc, who lived in Aventura and was taken into custody at an AutoZone in Broward County, also tweeted support of GOP nominee Ron DeSantis. Sayoc’s van, which investigators towed from the store, was plastered with Republican stickers, along with images of a liberal filmmaker and CNN personalities with targets over their faces.
DeSantis issued a statement condemning the attempted attacks.
“Violence and threats of violence have no place in our society and I applaud our law enforcement personnel for acting swiftly,” he tweeted. “This is a good versus evil issue, and when you send a pipe bomb through the mail you choose evil. The person responsible for these bombs needs to be in a place where mail can’t be sent and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”