Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating after a suspicious package was discovered in TriBeCa early Thursday morning, while authorities in Delaware probe two similar parcels addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden.
A SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE FOUND IN TRIBECA
The package was discovered on Greenwich Street, where actor Robert De Niro's restaurant, Tribeca Grill, and production company, Tribeca Productions, is located.
Sources told NY1 that police were alerted by security personnel at TriBeCa Productions after they came across the envelope addressed to the actor. John Miller, the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism for the NYPD, called it a "stroke of luck" that a retired NYPD detective flagged the package sent to De Niro.
The package was later removed and transported to the NYPD's explosives facility in the Bronx. After that, it was sent to an FBI facility in Virginia, where it will be tested.
A senior law enforcement official told NY1 that the suspicious package had the same markings as those discovered Wednesday, including the return address of former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was accused by Clinton rivals of secretly helping the party's eventual presidential nominee. The devices were packed in envelopes with bubble-wrap interiors bearing six American flag stamps.
- Officials Investigating After Explosive Devices Sent to Time Warner Center, Several Political Figures
Senior law enforcement sources confirmed with NY1 that the potentially explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats originated from a postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida. The NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force was headed to the city Thursday to conduct a video canvas.
As of this writing, 10 suspicious packages, which law enforcement agencies were treating as live explosive devices, have been sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump across the United States since Monday. None of the devices have detonated, and no one has been injured.
Investigators probing the crude pipe bombs are trying to determine whether the devices were intended to detonate or simply to sow fear, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The officials said the devices were not rigged like a booby-trapped package bomb that would explode upon opening. They had timers and batteries but never went off.
No specific motive or suspects have been named as of this writing.
Law enforcement officials said at a 3:30 p.m. briefing in New York City that investigators had not found any additional packages in the past eight hours. The FBI confirmed at least some of the packages were sent through U.S. mail.
It's not clear if the devices were designed to detonate. New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said law enforcement, per protocol, were treating the packages as live devices.
Initial analysis found that the powder in the envelopes was not a biological threat, FBI Official Bill Sweeney said at the briefing.
O'Neill said in the briefing that the investigation was still in its early stages, and there were no current credible threats to New York City locations, individuals, or organizations.
TWO PACKAGES SENT TO THE FORMER VICE PRESIDENT
Two suspicious packages addressed to Biden were also intercepted Thursday morning.
The AP, citing sources, reported that one package was found at a mail facility in New Castle, Delaware. A second was intercepted at a postal facility in Wilmington, Delaware.
Sources told the Associated Press the package is similar to ones sent to CNN, several Democratic politicians, and actor Robert De Niro.
Like earlier targets, both Biden and De Niro have been sharply critical of Trump. The actor dropped an expletive insult at Trump at this year's Tony Awards and also apologized to Canadians for the "idiotic behavior of my president." Biden said last week that the president may not "know what he's doing" and coddles dictators.
PACKAGES SENT TO CNN AND PROMINENT LIBERALS
On Wednesday morning, the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle was evacuated after a suspicious package was found. Police said the device, which appeared to be a live explosive, was found inside the CNN mailroom. A bomb squad was able to safely remove the device from the building.
The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan and the return address was that of Wasserman Schultz. She released a statement saying she was deeply disturbed that her name was used and said she was working with the FBI.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a strong message to those responsible.
"What we saw here today was an effort to terrorize. This was clearly an act of terror, attempting to undermine our free press and leaders of this country through acts of violence," de Blasio said.
The mayor said there are no other credible or specific threats against locations in the city at this time. He urged New Yorkers to notify authorities of any suspicious activity.
Meanwhile, police are also investigating devices that were sent to the Washington, D.C. home of former President Obama and the upstate New York home of Bill and Hillary Clinton, which is located about 35 miles north of Manhattan. The U.S. Secret Service intercepted the packages. It said neither family was at risk of receiving bombs due to screening procedures.
Hillary Clinton was attending a campaign event in Florida on Wednesday, but Bill Clinton was at their Chappaqua home at the time the package was intercepted Tuesday night, although the Secret Service intercepted it before it reached the Clinton home.
"It is a troubling time isn't it. It is a time of deep divisions. And we have to do everything we can to bring our country together," Clinton said.
Other devices were sent to frequent Trump critics Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder's ended up at the Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was listed as the return address.
The scare all started Monday, when a similar device was sent to the Westchester County home of George Soros. Authorities were able to safely detonate that bomb earlier this week.
The billionaire Soros is a major contributor to Democratic causes and has called Trump's presidency "dangerous."
A law enforcement official said Wednesday night that five pipe bombs that were sent to several prominent Democrats and CNN were packed with powder and shards of glass.
Meanwhile, a package delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office briefly caused a scare, but officials later said it was harmless and believed to contain information related to the right-wing group, the "Proud Boys." Members of the group were involved in brawl earlier this month with members of the anti-fascist movement, "Antifa," near the Metropolitan Republican Club.
Police evacuated the governor's office building while officers investigated, but people were let back in shortly afterward.
"We are New Yorkers, there are people who try to make us afraid and try to disrupt us. That's part of being New York, we're an international icon. We're also an international target. Terrorism only works if you let them win and we will not let them win," Cuomo said.
Police said the package at Cuomo's office was not connected to the ones sent to the Time Warner Center or other prominent politicians.
TRUMP CALLS FOR CIVILITY — WHILE FIRING AT THE MEDIA
President Donald Trump is calling for unity following the multiple package scares, while still putting blame on the media:
During a rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday night, he said the federal government is conducting an aggressive investigation, and that those responsible would be brought to justice.
The president said that he wanted all sides to come together peacefully, but he also pointed fingers at the media, accusing them of being hostile.
"The media also has a responsibly to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories," Trump said.
Trump was in Wisconsin to support Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections.
Other Republican leaders have condemned the incidents. Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California said Trump's words calling for unity "ring hallow." They noted the president's recent praise of a GOP congressman who body-slammed a reporter, among other pugnacious statements.