Mail bomb suspect has ties to the Carolinas, played soccer at UNC Charlotte

Trump: Mail bombing suspect apprehended

President Trump praised law enforcement for taking Cesar Sayoc into custody in relation to the mail bombings sent to 12 individuals who were critical of the president. Trump says those responsible will be prosecuted and denounced political violence.
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President Trump praised law enforcement for taking Cesar Sayoc into custody in relation to the mail bombings sent to 12 individuals who were critical of the president. Trump says those responsible will be prosecuted and denounced political violence.

The Florida man who was charged Friday in the spate of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump is a former UNC Charlotte soccer player who also attended a second North Carolina college.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., just north of Miami, was charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officers, according to The Miami Herald.

A student by the same name attended UNC Charlotte in the 1983-84 school year but didn’t declare a major, UNCC spokeswoman Buffie Stephens said. He also played on the school’s soccer team. A team roster shows that Sayoc played in 11 games in 1983, starting seven of them but scoring no goals.

In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo, in Miami. Federal authorities took Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said. Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP

“He ran hard all the time and was always gung-ho. He’d go through one of his own players to get the ball,” said Mark Colone, who was UNCC’s sports information director in 1983. “He wore a gold chain when he played and that really irritated a referee. (Sayoc) ripped it off and slammed it on the scorer’s table and it got caught on the air horn.”

Colone said Sayoc “huffed and puffed and sounded like a choo-choo when he ran. One time coach Bob Warming got mad at him and said, ‘Sayoc, derail that train!’ ”

Warming, who now coaches the men’s soccer team for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said Sayoc was a walk-on player. Sayoc mostly sat on the bench and left the team by mid-season, after about six to eight weeks, Warming said.

What Warming does remember about the 1983 season was that the UNCC soccer team won the first conference championship in school history. Sayoc had left the team by that time, he said.

Sayoc also studied at Brevard College in western North Carolina for three semesters in the early 1980s, but did not graduate, college officials told The Miami Herald.

Both Brevard and UNC Charlotte are referenced in the decals seen on a van resembling the one seized by authorities Friday. The photo of the van circulated on Twitter. It wasn’t clear when it was taken.

UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, Duke University, Clemson and Wake Forest University were also mentioned on the van as championship-winning soccer teams.

“I bleed Carolina blue,” another message reads.

Public records show that a Cesar Sayoc lived at an address on Tamarron Drive, in south Charlotte near Ballantyne, in 2000. Records list pre-Charlotte addresses for Sayoc in Florida, New York and Michigan. His latest listed address is in Miramar, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale in 2016.

Records show that Sayoc was charged in 1999, while living in Matthews, with possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The charge was dismissed.

FBI director Chris Wray told reporters Friday that the packages sent to former President Barack Obama and 12 other officials contained a length of pipe, small clock, wiring, battery and “energetic materials,” a term that includes explosives.

“These are not hoax devices,” Wray said.

Investigators found a fingerprint matching Sayoc’s on an envelope sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, Wray said.

President Donald Trump, who will appear at a rally in Charlotte on Friday night, tweeted congratulations to investigators “for their incredible work, skill and determination!”

The latest suspicious packages found in the nationwide search for a serial mail bomber are addressed to New Jersey Senator Corey Booker and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

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Sayoc has a history of criminal charges in Florida, records show.

He pleaded no contest to grand theft in Broward County in 2014, records show, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. He entered the same plea to a misdemeanor battery charge on the same date. Sayoc was arrested later in 2014 on a misdemeanor theft charge, again pleading no contest.

Records show that in 2004 Sayoc pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a driver’s license and criminal use of personal identification information. He pleaded guilty to third-degree grand theft in 1991 and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Sayoc was arrested in Miami-Dade County in 2002 for making a bomb threat and was sentenced to one year of probation, the Miami Herald reported.

The Herald reported that Sayoc was a registered Republican as of 2016. Photos on his Facebook page show Sayoc wearing a red Make America Great Again cap, the Herald reported.

The Twitter feed of Cesar Altieri, Sayoc’s first and middle names, has recent pro-Trump posts. An Oct. 12 post grouped CNN, one of the targets that received envelopes containing explosives, among “BS con job fraud puppets. ... You will just vanish.”

Sayoc is the manager of a catering company in Hallandale Beach, Fla., the Herald reported, citing business records, and has a history of financial troubles. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom home he owned in Fort Lauderdale was foreclosed in 2009, the Herald reported, and Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender