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National
New Zealand mosque attacks: Trump says media 'working overtime to blame me' for shootings
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New Zealand mosque attacks: Trump says media 'working overtime to blame me' for shootings

New Zealand Shootings: Authorities Confirmed Fatalities After Attack at Mosques

New Zealand mosque attacks: Trump says media 'working overtime to blame me' for shootings

Mass shootings at two mosques full of worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, left at least 50 people dead and dozens more injured Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

White supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with one count of murder in the slayings and a judge said Saturday that it was reasonable to assume more charges would follow.

>> Photos: Mass casualties reported in New Zealand mosque shooting

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT March 18: President Donald Trump said Monday that the media was “working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand.”

“They will have to work very hard to prove that one,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “So Ridiculous!”

The gunman in last week’s attacks left a document in which he called himself a white nationalist and referred to Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity.”

In the past, Trump has drawn criticism for saying “both sides” were to blame for violence at a deadly white supremacist demonstration.

>> Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

Update 11:50 p.m. EDT March 17: Leaders of New Zealand’s Muslim community are planning a national memorial burial for all the victims of Friday’s deadly shooting rampages at two mosques in Christchurch, according to media outlets.

The New Zealand Herald is also reporting that despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s expectations that the bodies of all the victims would be released to family members by Monday, that  isn’t expected to happen now, instead authorities believe it might be Wednesday before all the victims have been released.

While Islamic leaders have said they are planning for a mass burial, the families will ultimately decide how they’ll proceed, the Herald reported.

Not to far from the scene of the Linwood Mosque shooting, burial preparations are underway at Memorial Park Cemetery where workers are digging graves for the shooting victims behind a large temporary fence.

Update 10:15 p.m. EDT March 17: The owner of a Christchurch gun store confirmed Sunday that he sold four guns and ammunition to alleged mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant in a “police-verified” online purchase, according to the New Zealand Herald.

But the owner of the retail chain Gun City, David Tipple, said his store did not sell Tarrant any semi-automatic weapons.

Tipple said he and staff are "dismayed and disgusted" by Friday's shootings, The Associated Press reported.

Tipple said the store did not notice any red flags in Tarrant’s gun purchases.

 “We detected nothing extraordinary about this (gun) license holder,” he said.

Meantime, counter-terrorism police executed search warrants on two homes in New South Wales, Australia, believed to be connected to the alleged shooter.

Authorities searched a house in Sandy Beach near Coffs Harbor that is believed to belong to Tarrant’s sister, according to Australia’s News 9.

They also raided a home in Lawrence that is believe to be connected to Tarrant’s mother.

Authorities said they’re searching for anything that might help New Zealand investigators.

“The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants,”the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police said in a joint statement, News 9 reported.

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT March 17: Pakistan will observe a day of mourning for the victims of the shootings, The AP reported. 

Vatican News reported Pope Francis offered prayers for those killed in the attacks. 

“In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I pray for the dead and injured and their families. I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community. I renew my invitation for prayer and gestures of peace to combat hatred and violence.”

Related: Photos: Mass casualties reported in New Zealand mosque shooting

Update 7:41 a.m. EDT March 17: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday that members of her Cabinet will work to change the nation’s gun laws in the wake of Friday’s deadly mosque attacks, The Associated Press is reporting.

In a news conference, Ardern added that officials will release the victims’ bodies to their families starting Sunday evening and should finish by Wednesday, the AP reported.

Pope Francis on Sunday also prayed “for our Muslim brothers who were killed,” the report said

Meanwhile, an online campaign has raised more than $3 million U.S. for the victims and their families. Learn more here.

 

Update 5 p.m. EDT March 16: The death toll in the New Zealand mosque attacks has risen to 50.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed in a news conference that 50 people died in the shooting attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, RNZ reported. 

He also said that 36 are in the hospital with two in critical condition.

Update 6:30 p.m. EDT March 15: The man suspected in at least one of the shootings that killed at least 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand has appeared briefly in court.

Two armed guards brought Brenton Tarrant into court Friday. He showed no expression as District Court Judge Paul Kellar read one charge of murder to him.

The court appearance lasted only about a minute and he was led back out in handcuffs. He was ordered to return to court again April 5.

After Tarrant left, the judge said that while “there is one charge of murder brought at the moment, it is reasonable to assume that there will be others.”

The gunman posted a 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as Tarrant and said he was a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

Update 5 p.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand’s prime minister said the “primary perpetrator” in the mosque shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used in the shootings.

Jacinda Ardern said the country’s national gun laws will change after at least 49 worshippers were shot dead in the two mosques in Christchurch.

Update 3:25 p.m. EDT March 15: President Donald Trump said he spoke Friday with Ardern and offered “any assistance the U.S.A. can give.”

“We stand by ready to help,” Trump wrote. “We love you New Zealand!”

   

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT March 15: New York police said the department is ramping up patrols around the city Friday and keeping in contact with officials at area mosques in the wake of the deadly shootings in Christchurch.

"To the Muslim community here in New York: We stand with you always, and we will remain vigilant in keeping you safe -- and making sure you feel safe, too," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Friday in a statement. "The people we serve, in every neighborhood, must always be free from fear and have the immutable right to worship and live in peace."

 

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT March 15: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, said Friday in a statement that their “hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in the devastating attack in Christchurch.”

“No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship,” the statement said. “This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.”

 

Update 9:35 a.m. EDT March 15: Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama shared condolences for the people of New Zealand in a message posted Friday to social media.

“We grieve  with you and the Muslim community,” said the message shared by President Obama. “All of us must stand against hatred in all its forms.”

 

Update 8:55 a.m. EDT March 15: Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence” in New Zealand, his cardinal secretary of state said Friday in a telegram.

“He assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks,” Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said. “Mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation, His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy.”

Officials in New Zealand said 49 people were killed in a pair of attacks on mosques in Christchurch. Health officials said 48 patients were being treated for injuries ranging from minor to critical after the shootings.

Update 7:49 a.m. EDT March 15: In a tweet early Friday, President Donald Trump sent “warm sympathy and best wishes” to the people of New Zealand after “the horrible massacre.”

“Forty-nine innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured,” Trump said. “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

 

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the attack “a vicious act of hate.” 

“We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government,” Sanders said.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the Commonwealth and New Zealand's monarch, said she was “deeply saddened” by the shootings, CNN reported.

“I have been deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch today,” the queen said. “Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured.”

Update 5:01 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand police said a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, TVNZ reported. The man was expected to appear in court Saturday morning, The Washington Post reported. Officials have not named the suspect. Police clarified that while four people were detained, only three were thought to have been involved in the shootings, the newspaper reported.

Update 4:20 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed in a news conference that 49 people died in the shooting attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, TVNZ reported.

The attack at the Masjid Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park in central Christchurch left 41 people dead, and seven people were killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque, TVNZ reported. Another person died at a hospital, Bush said.

Update 3:14 a.m. EDT March 15: Forty-eight patients are being treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, CNN reported. David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, said the patients’ conditions ranged from critical to minor.

One of four people taken into custody after the mass shooting attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he was a 28-year-old Australian, according to The Associated Press. Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the shooter was Australian-born.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference, “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.”

"We were chosen (because) we represent diversity, kindness compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it and those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack," Ardern said. "We utterly condemn and reject you."

Update 2:37 a.m. EDT March 15: In a news conference Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that 40 people died in the mosque attacks. Arden said 30 people were killed at the Masjid Al Noor mosque near Hagley Park in central Christchurch, and that 10 people were killed at the Linwood Avenue mosque, TVNZ reported.

Twenty more people have been seriously injured, TVNZ reported.

Update 2:24 a.m. EDT March 15: In a news conference Friday, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel expressed shock and anger after the mass shooting at the mosques.

“I never could believe anything like this could ever happen in Christchurch,” she said. “I never thought anything like this could happen in New Zealand.”

Dalziel told TVNZ, "We need to come together and care for each other, we need to make this unite us, not divide us."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the shootings “a vicious attack.”

"We grieve. We are shocked, appalled and outraged as we stand here and condemn the attack that occurred today by an extremist right wing violent terrorist,” Morrison said.

Update 1:43 a.m. EDT March 15: St. John Ambulance has transferred multiple patients to Christchurch Hospital and other local medical facilities, TVNZ reported. The news agency reported that injuries of the patients ranged from minor to critical.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to address the country at 7 p.m. local time.

Update 1:30 a.m. EDT March 15: New Zealand police tweeted Friday that while they cannot confirm the number of fatalities, “it is significant.”

Police have asked all mosques throughout New Zealand to close, and advised people to stay away from them “until further notice.”

 

Update 1:04 a.m. EDT March 15: Police confirmed Friday afternoon that the lockdown of schools in Christchurch has been lifted, TVNZ reported.

Update 12:33 a.m. EDT March 15: At a news conference, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said four people were in custody. Three are men and one is a woman, “as I understand it,” Bush said.

There were improvised explosive devices found in vehicles after the shootings, Bush said.

Update 12:16 a.m. EDT March 15:  “This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

A cricket match between Bangladesh and the New Zealand national team was canceled. The Bangladesh team was arriving for prayers at a mosque when the shooting occurred, but all members of the squad were safe, a team coach told Reuters.

Update 11:15 p.m. EDT March 14: New Zealand authorities have confirmed that there have been multiple fatalities and one person is in custody:

“Police is responding to a very serious and tragic incident involving an active shooter in central Christchurch. 

One person is in custody, however Police believe there may be other offenders.

This is an evolving incident and we are working to confirm the facts, however we can confirm there have been a number of fatalities. 

Police is currently at a number of scenes. We understand that there will be many anxious people but I can assure New Zealanders that Police is doing all it can to resolve this incident.

We urge New Zealanders to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111. 

We are mobilising resources nationally and support is being brought into the District. We are still working to resolve this incident and we continue to urge Christchurch residents to stay inside.

We ask all mosques nationally to shut their doors, and advise that people refrain from visiting these premises until further notice.”

          

Update 10:55 p.m. EDT March 14: New Zealand media said an additional shooting has occurred in a second mosque in the city of Christchurch.

Original report: As many as 30 people have been injured or killed, a child care center manager told Radio New Zealand.

Witness Len Peneha told The Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the Masjid Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running from the mosque in terror.

Peneha, who has lived next door to the mosque for about five years, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in Peneha’s driveway and fled.

Peneha said he went into the mosque to try and help, “I saw dead people everywhere,” he said.

 

Police are urging people in the area to stay indoors and schools in the area have been placed on lockdown.

 

About 300 people were inside the mosque, according to RNZ.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Nearly four decades after an Atlanta man was convicted in connection with one of the most horrific serial murder cases in U.S. history, doubt still lingers about his guilt, even among some investigators and victims’ families. Wayne Bertram Williams has sat in a Georgia prison since January 1984, convicted of two murders, those of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21. Cater and Payne were both grown men, but many of the homicide victims Williams is suspected of killing were children. The three youngest victims were just 9 years old when they died. The oldest victim, John Porter, was 28.  All the dead were black.  On Thursday, more than 38 years after the end of the murders, Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields announced that they are reopening the case and retesting any evidence that remains to put to bed, once and for all, speculation about Williams’ guilt in the crimes.  “It may be there is nothing left to be tested,” Bottoms said during a news conference. “But I do think history will judge us by our actions, and we will be able to say we tried.” >> Related story: Police to retest evidence in Atlanta child murder cases Bottoms, who said she was 9 years old when the crimes took place, recalled the terror the slayings unleashed on the community. She said she began thinking about taking another look at the case after meeting with Catherine Leach, whose 13-year-old son, Curtis Walker, was killed in March 1981. The mayor said applying modern technology to the testing of evidence will assure victims’ families that city and police officials “have done all that (they) can do do to make sure their memories are not forgotten and, in the truest sense of the word, to let the world know that black lives do matter.” Though Williams was tried for just two killings, the Atlanta Police Department attributed at least 22 of the other 29 known homicides to Williams and closed those cases. He is also a potential suspect in the case of a black child who went missing but was never found.  >> Read more trending news According to CNN, Williams’ convictions rested, in part, on dog hairs and a variety of fibers that prosecutors argued linked Williams’ home and car to both Cater’s and Payne’s bodies.  Williams, now 60, has maintained his innocence throughout the decades since his arrest and conviction.   “The bottom line is nobody ever testified or even claimed that they saw me strike another person, choke another person, stab, beat or kill or hurt anybody, because I didn’t,' Williams told CNN in a 2010 interview.  He said the panic in Atlanta over the serial killings put pressure on authorities to make an arrest. A black man had to be responsible, Williams continued, because arresting a white man would have sparked a race war. “Atlanta would’ve gone up in flames,” Williams told CNN.  Watch part of Thursday’s announcement in the Williams case, courtesy of WSB-TV in Atlanta. Forensic experts that same year found that human hair found on the body of Patrick Balthazar, 11, showed that Williams could not be excluded as the boy’s killer. CNN reported that Williams accused authorities of manipulating evidence against him. Retired FBI scientist Harold Deadman, who once served as the head of the agency’s DNA lab, told the news channel the findings in Balthazar’s case excluded 98 percent of the world’s population as the killer. Williams is in the other 2 percent, he said.  ‘A loud splash’ According to the FBI, the string of child murders that shocked Atlanta, and later the entire country, began July 21, 1979, with the killing of Edward Smith, 14, who was shot in the back. A second boy, 13-year-old Alfred Evans, was strangled to death just four days later. The killings continued, sometimes with multiple killings in a single month and others separated by as many as three months. Some victims were shot, stabbed or beaten, but the majority were strangled or otherwise asphyxiated.  The city of Atlanta asked the FBI for help in August 1980, by which time investigators were looking at six unsolved child murders and four missing persons cases in which foul play was suspected, according to FBI records. A task force had been established in the case, and FBI agents joined those efforts.  “Collectively, they focused on a dozen disappearances with several shared traits,” the FBI website says. “The victims were all young African-American males who vanished in broad daylight in fairly public locations. Their bodies were found in desolate areas. Their murders had no obvious motivation (in contrast, two other homicides from that period appeared to have been gang-related).  “These commonalities suggested a single killer.” As the murders continued unabated through 1980 and into early 1981, the killer began to change where he disposed of the bodies. By May 22, 1981, a total of six bodies had been recovered from the Chattahoochie River.  Another three victims were recovered from the waters or the banks of the South River, according to a 1981 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Task force investigators decided to begin staking out 14 bridges in the Atlanta metropolitan area in case, hoping to catch the killer in the process of dumping another victim, according to the FBI.  One early morning in May, they stumbled upon Wayne Williams, then a 23-year-old freelance cameraman and wannabe record producer.  Around 2:52 a.m. May 22, an FBI agent, an Atlanta police officer and two police cadets stationed at the South Cobb Drive Bridge heard “a loud splash” in the river and spotted a car on the bridge. “(The) car sped across the bridge, turned around in a parking lot on the other side and sped back across the bridge. The vehicle was pursued and stopped,” the FBI website says. Williams, who was driving the car, told the officers he was searching for the location of an audition he had set up with a woman for the following day. Without probable cause to hold him, the task force agents had to let him go. Two days later, Cater’s naked body was recovered from the river near the bridge. Like so many previous victims, he had been asphyxiated, the Journal-Constitution reported. The task force turned its attention to Williams. “Investigators soon learned that his alibi was poor and that he had been arrested earlier that year for impersonating a police officer,” the FBI website says. “Later, he failed multiple polygraph examinations.” Williams was again questioned for 12 hours over June 3 and 4, the Journal-Constitution said. He later told the media he’d been accused of Cater’s death and called a “prime suspect” in the case. He was again let go, but the task force kept him under constant surveillance. Knowing he was being watched, Williams would sometimes taunt the agents, including having them follow him June 10, 1981, to the home of Lee Brown, who was then Atlanta’s public safety commissioner.  He also took task force agents on a chase the night of June 20, driving to the homes of both Brown and then-Mayor Maynard Jackson, the newspaper reported. Williams was arrested in Cater’s death the next day. He was convicted the following February in the deaths of Cater and Payne. According to the FBI, Williams’ conviction was based on “meticulous hair and fiber analysis and witness testimony.” After the trial, the task force concluded that there was evidence to link Williams to at least 20 additional homicides.  Never far from people’s minds -- or from controversy The case, though nearly 40 years old, has never been far from the minds of those who lost loved ones. It has also sparked public interest through the years. CNN reported that celebrities including Sammy Davis Jr. and the Jacksons performed at benefit concerts for the victims’ families. Williams spoke to CNN in 2010 in conjunction with a documentary hosted by Soledad O’Brien, and more recently, the case was the subject of a podcast, “Atlanta Monster.” Netflix’s second season of its original series “Mindhunter” is anticipated to touch upon the case and Deadline reported last month that producer Will Packer was making a three-part special on the case titled “The Atlanta Child Murders.”  Packer’s documentary is scheduled to begin airing Saturday on cable network Investigation Discovery. The case has continuously sparked controversy over the decades. Louis Graham, who was a member of the original task force that investigated the killings, reopened some of the cases in 2005, a year after he became chief of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. “I never believed he did it,” Graham, who died in 2010, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005.  A total of five DeKalb County cases were reopened by Graham and his detectives: those of Balthazar, who was found strangled Feb. 13, 1981, in a wooded area; Walker, who was found asphyxiated March 6, 1981, in the South River; Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bell, 15, who was found asphyxiated April 19, 1981, in the South River; William Barrett, 17, who was found asphyxiated May 12, 1981, on a roadside; and Aaron Darnell Wyche, 10, who was found dead of a broken neck beneath a bridge June 24, 1980.  A sixth boy, Christopher Richardson, 11, vanished from DeKalb County, but his body was recovered June 9, 1980, in Fulton County.  Wyche’s father, Jesse Griffin, told the Journal-Constitution in 2005 that anyone with information about the killings needed to come forward. “It’s time for someone to step forward so the parents can rest a little bit more than they have been,” Griffin told the newspaper. “I’ve slept four hours at most since this incident happened. I’m hoping tonight I can have about two more hours added to that, knowing that this case is opened again and something’s going to be done about it.” The reopened DeKalb County cases were left to languish again a year later when Graham resigned after being caught on tape uttering a profanity-laced tirade, the Journal-Constitution reported.  Griffin is not the only parent of a victim who has doubted Williams’ guilt over the years.  Leach said Thursday that she had been let down over the years, not knowing for sure who killed her teen son.  “It seems like the Atlanta missing and murdered children have been forgotten in this city,” Leach said, according to CNN. “I don’t think it’s right for all these kids to be killed in this city, and nobody was concerned about it. “I want some closure. I want to know who killed Curtis.”
  • Orlando Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani is co-sponsoring a bill to allow illegal immigrants living in Florida to legally obtain a state driver’s license. “We can talk about the need to reform immigration as a whole, but this is one solution to make sure that our roads are safer,” Eskamani said over the phone on Thursday. Illegal immigrants would still have to take a driving test to get a license, and they’d be able to buy car insurance, which Eskamani said would generate additional revenue for the state.  She also believes the bill will encourage people to report accidents and crimes they see on the road. Eskamani agreed with the assessment that the bill (HB 969) does not attempt to change immigration policy but rather change policy dealing with Florida’s current immigrant situation. “On our roads, you have people who are undocumented who are driving their kids to daycare, who are going to work,” Eskamani said.  “They’re doing their best to live life to its fullest potential.” Under current Florida law, residents must prove U.S. citizenship or show a resident alien green card to get a state driver’s license.  This bill would allow people to use documents such as foreign passports, international birth certificates, or tax ID number to get one.   With the 2019 legislative session well underway in Tallahassee, neither the bill nor its Senate companion has seen a committee vote. The bill has gotten notable attention from Fox News, to which Eskamani mused on her Facebook page, “Wow, my first ever mention in Fox News!  This has to come with some sort of award right?”
  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc appeared Thursday for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Federal authorities and Butler Township police are investigating after an explosive device was placed inside a mailbox and detonated, according to police. >> Read more trending news  The explosive device, which police believe was a commercial-grade firework, was detonated and destroyed the mailbox sometime between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Butler Township Police Chief John Porter said in a media release. Police did not say what road the incident occurred on but described the area as a rural part of the township.  “Since tampering with a mailbox is covered under federal law, federal authorities have been notified and are participating with us in a joint investigation,” Porter said. “Our initial investigation shows there is no indication of any type of hate or bias crime at this time.”  Authorities continue to investigate.

Washington Insider

  • A man who was charged with sending explosive devices to a series of critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Thursday to the crimes, as federal prosecutors say Cesar Sayoc could spend the rest of his life in prison for mailing 16 improvised explosive devices to former President Obama, former Vice President Biden, as well as sitting Democratic lawmakers in Congress. 'For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country,' said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. 'Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake.  'Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison,' Berman added in a statement, as prosecutors labeled Sayoc's effort 'domestic terrorism.' 'Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public,' said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. Sayoc is scheduled for sentencing on September 12. In a statement issued by prosecutors, the feds said Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 separate felony counts brought against him for his mail bomb flurry, which involved 16 identical looking padded envelopes sent from south Florida. 'Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded,' the feds stated. 'Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red 'X.'' Sayoc’s mail bombs were sent to former Vice President Joseph Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, actor Robert De Niro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Rep. Maxine Walters (D-CA).   When Sayoc was arrested, authorities found his van, which was plastered in pro-Trump and anti-Democratic Party stickers and placards.