By Umar Farooq
Multiple “suspicious packages” containing explosive devices were found near the homes and offices of prominent political and media figures, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
The Time Warner Center, the location of CNN’s New York bureau, was evacuated after receiving a “suspicious device” intercepted in its mail room.
The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, and the Florida office of congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was labeled as the return address. A bomb squad reported to the building to investigate.
“These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice,” Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter.
New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neil noted at a news conference the device found at the Time Warner Center was “live” and authorities also found a white powder with the package.
Late Tuesday, an explosive device addressed to former U.S. President Barack Obama was intercepted at his home in Washington D.C. and early Wednesday a similar package was found by the Secret Service addressed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her home in New York.
The Secret Service noted the packages were identified during mail screening procedures.
Both devices were intercepted prior to reaching their intended target, and the Clintons and Obamas were not at risk of receiving the packages.
“The Secret Service has initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible,” the agency said in a statement.
Local and federal law enforcement officials are investigating the “suspicious package” received at the Clinton home.
U.S. President Donald Trump describing them as “despicable” and called for solidarity among Americans.
“The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority,” Trump said at an event at the White House. “In these times we have to unify. We have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”
Trump said he was briefed by the Secret Service, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and a major federal investigation is under way.
Initial reports by CNN that the White House received a similar “suspicious package” was incorrect, according to the Secret Service.
“The attempt to spread fear is the world we live in,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the same briefing. “This is nothing new.”
He added that a similar device was sent to his office in New York.
More packages were found at a congressional mail facility in Maryland addressed to congresswoman Maxine Waters, as well as one near the office of Schultz which was originally sent to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, according to reports.
The discovery of the packages comes a day after another package containing an explosive device was found outside the home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros at his home in suburban New York.
The FBI’s ongoing investigation believes that one or more individuals sent out multiple similar packages to these different locations.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged all public officials not to encourage violence, while a senior FBI official described the incidents along the same lines as domestic terrorism.
“The utilization of violence in order to further one’s own political agenda is unacceptable,” said FBI Special Agent Bryan Paarmann.