Pipe Bomb Suspect Faces Potential Life Sentence

Maya Weaver '21, Staff Writer

The United States of America is a nation that proudly stands on its founding principles of freedom of speech and tolerance. However, recently, its threads of unity have increasingly come undone, revealing deeply rooted political divides and tensions. Each month more and more stories emerge of American people resorting to cruel and violent methods to express their beliefs against opposing parties.

At first glance, Cesar Sayoc was a seemingly ordinary American. Once a player on his college soccer team, he later became a pizza delivery man. Some of his relatives described him as decent but opinionated. However, there were many signs that Sayoc harbored a troubled spirit. He drove a white van covered in appalling images of violent acts that included torchings, bombings, and hangings. Additionally, stickers on his van broadcasted sentiments against homosexual people, Jewish people, and racial minorities, and advertised his support for the Klu Klux Klan. Coworkers reported that he often said offensive comments. Sayoc spent time on Twitter spewing angry tweets, ranting against Democratic politicians, and sharing his support for Donald Trump. Furthermore, he repeatedly lied about his career and ethnicity. He received several arrests for drug possession and bomb threats. Many colleagues and relatives of Sayoc report that his behavior was very strange and volatile.

In mid October authorities intercepted sixteen packages containing explosive devices that were addressed to prominent Democratic authorities and critics of Trump, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, which sparked nationwide security alerts. Fortunately, no one was injured. Using forensic evidence, authorities traced the packages back to Sayoc and then apprehended him on October 26th in Plantation, Florida. Police officers found a list of over one hundred potential Democratic targets in Sayoc’s possession. In early November, shortly after his arrest, Sayoc attended a hearing in New York. His appointed lawyer, Sarah Baumgartel, was present. At the trial, Sayoc pleaded not guilty to the charges made against him for using weapons of mass destruction in a domestic terrorism plan. However, Sayoc could face the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of every charge made against him in his life. United States District Judge Jeff Rakoff scheduled a preliminary trial for July 15th. Federal prosecutors plan to use forensic evidence against Sayoc to prove his guilt.