Mailed pipe bombs spread fear in several states, and officials say there may be more packages
(CNN) — With every intercepted pipe bomb, fear spread from New York, to Washington, to Florida and California. The devices stashed in manila envelopes and mailed nationwide targeted top Democrats two weeks before the midterm elections.
The bombs found this week were intended for at least seven officials, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. Law enforcement officials are trying to track down another suspicious package sent to former Vice President Joe Biden, and the FBI says additional packages may have been mailed to other locations.
An eighth device was discovered early Thursday at an office in New York associated with actor Robert De Niro.
None of the bombs detonated and no one was injured. Here’s a breakdown of what we know:
The packages had a similar return address
The pipe bombs were sent to a mix of office and residential addresses, and appeared to target some of the people President Donald Trump criticizes frequently. The five packages discovered Tuesday and Wednesday had a similar return address: That of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but with her last name misspelled. There is no information to suggest she sent the packages.
Barack Obama: The package sent to the former president was intercepted in Washington, D.C., during routine mail screening procedures, the Secret Service said.
Bill and Hillary Clinton: The package was addressed to their residence in Chappaqua, New York, and was intercepted Tuesday night by the Secret Service during routine mail inspection.
Eric Holder: The package was addressed to the former attorney general, but sent to the Florida office of Schultz, whose return address was on the package.
Maxine Waters: One package was sent to the Democratic congresswoman’s office in DC and a second package addressed to her was found at a postal facility in Los Angeles. It matches the description of those sent to the other officials.
John Brennan: The “live explosive device” was delivered by courier to CNN’s offices in New York. The former CIA director frequently appears on CNN. The NYPD said an envelope containing white powder also was found as part of the device’s original packaging.
Joe Biden: Authorities are trying to track down a package addressed to the former vice president, two law enforcement sources told CNN’s Josh Campbell and Brynn Gingras on Wednesday night. The package, now considered suspicious because of its similarities to others, was misaddressed and returned to the sender. It’s unclear whether the return address was Wasserman Schultz’s. US Postal inspectors are working to locate the package.
George Soros: A suspicious package found Monday appeared to be an explosive device targeting the billionaire investor, philanthropist and Democratic donor. It was rendered safe in Bedford, New York, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Robert De Niro: Shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday, police responded to a report of a suspicious package received at a nonresidential building in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, NYPD Lt. Thomas Antonetti said. The package was addressed to actor Robert De Niro, a vocal critic of Trump, and has markings similar to the other pipe bomb packages recently mailed nationwide, two law enforcement sources told CNN.
They came in similar packaging
The devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs, said Bryan Paarmann, FBI special agent in charge of the counterterrorism division in New York.
An initial examination shows they are are rudimentary but functional, and have similar construction. At least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass, a law enforcement official told CNN. The bombs were unstable and could have been set off just by handling, sources said.
The packages sent to all but Biden are in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior, the FBI said. Each package had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelope.
The bomb maker wanted to create fear, expert says
The bombs were likely meant to be found and create panic, explosives experts say.
The devices had suspicious-looking packaging, and at least one had a timer that can be bought for a few dollars online and should be easily detected when mailed or delivered.
Ryan Morris, founder of Tripwire Operations Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement and military officials, said that by examining images of two devices — the one found Monday at Soros’ home and the one sent to CNN’s New York offices on Wednesday — it looked like they were real devices that would cause serious bodily injury or death.
“Whoever is doing this is just trying to elicit a fear or disrupt something,” Morris said. “There are a multitude of more sophisticated methodologies that would have worked if they really wanted this to work.”