Investigation into mail bombs sent to Democrats after Time Warner Center scare

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, October 26, 2018
Investigation into mail bombs sent to democrats
Candace McCowan reports from Columbus Circle.

NEW YORK -- The investigation into the pipe bombs being mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump widened Thursday, as law enforcement officials seized three more suspicious packages and said they were similar to crude suspected pipe bombs sent to George Soros, former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN, Rep. Maxine Waters and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Two were addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden at locations in Delaware, and another was addressed to Robert De Niro and sent to a Manhattan location associated with the actor.

None of the devices exploded, and no one was injured.

There were also several investigations into other suspicious packages, including another at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, that ended up being unfounded. Authorities said the mall incident turned out to be unattended packages with toys on the third floor, which was evacuated as a precaution. Police blocked the escalators, and people slowly left the mall as bomb-sniffing dogs made sure there was no danger. The two packages had Christmas wrapping paper and were left on top of a garbage can.

The packages sent to Biden were found in New Castle and Wilmington. The FBI and ATF responded to the facilities as part of the ongoing investigation into the devices, with authorities believing these to be ninth and 10th packages tied to the case.

The first crude suspected bomb to be discovered had been delivered Monday to the Westchester County compound of George Soros, a liberal billionaire and major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump's presidency "dangerous."

Similar packages were addressed to the Clintons' home in Chappaqua and the Obamas' home in Washington, DC, though the Secret Service said neither package reached their intended recipients. Two more were sent to Waters, a frequent Trump critic, and another to Holder. His package never made it to its destination due to a delivery error and was bounced back to the return address, listed as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office in Sunrise, Florida, which was briefly evacuated.

Lastly, a police bomb squad removed a package addressed to for CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor, at CNN's New York City office at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

TIMELINE of pipe bomb mailings to politicians, others

The object appeared to be a small pipe bomb with wires extending from it, which was removed from the building at 11:37 a.m. and taken to a remote location to be detonated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an act of terrorism.

"What we saw here today was an effort to terrorize," he said. "This clearly is an act of terror, attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence. I want to make very clear that the people of New York City will not be intimidated, that we are going to go about our lives undeterred because the very concept of terrorism to change us, and we will not allow that to happen."

The bombs seized Wednesday, each with a small battery, were about six inches long and packed with powder and broken glass. The devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape and were sent to an FBI lab in Virginia to be studied. They are being treated as potentially explosive devices, but at this point, it remains unclear if they were designed to actually explode.

Meanwhile, multiple sources tell ABC News that federal authorities are chasing promising leads pointing them to South Florida as a suspected origin of at least some of the bombs. The sources say law enforcement agencies are deploying additional resources to the area to pursue additional evidence.

Officials provided no details on a possible suspect or motive, and the investigation is ongoing.


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