Authorities find 2 packages intended for Biden as manhunt ensues

Authorities have located a suspicious package addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware, multiple law enforcement officials told CNN Thursday

Biden is visiting Connecticut to headline a Democratic rally less than two weeks before Election Day.

Friday’s event is planned for 3:30 p.m. at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. Biden will be joined by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, 5th Congressional District candidate Jahana Hayes, governor candidate Ned Lamont and likely other Democrats appearing on the November ballot.

Biden has been traveling the country, campaigning for fellow Democrats.

The package was considered suspicious due to its similarities to other packages sent this week to prominent Democrats and CNN, law enforcement officials said Thursday. The package was misaddressed and returned to sender, two law enforcement sources previously told CNN.

Also on Thursday, a suspicious package addressed to actor-director Robert De Niro was reported at the Manhattan building where his production company is based, and its marking and contents appear similar to pipe bomb packages recently mailed nationwide to top Democrats, two law enforcement sources said.

A manhunt is underway for the perpetrator behind the packages. Law enforcement authorities are treating the series of bombs as a domestic terror matter and are advising the public to remain vigilant.

The motive is unknown, but the recipients are all prominent targets of right-wing criticism and, in many cases, of President Donald Trump himself. The package found at CNN’s New York bureau in the Time Warner Center was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, city and local law enforcement officials said.

Devices sent to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and Democratic donor George Soros showed the presence of a sulfur substance, which could have exploded, a law enforcement official said.

The devices are believed to be pipe bombs, inherently unstable, and at risk of being set off just by handling.

The FBI’s counterterrorism division is leading the investigation Thursday into the packages and the agency says it’s possible additional packages were mailed to other locations.

At the White House, Trump vowed Wednesday that “we will spare no resources or expense” to pursue the perpetrator.

Hartford’s Chief of Police, Rafael Medina, said in a statement:

“The Hartford Police Department is aware of Vice President Biden’s visit to Hartford on Friday in support for Lamont. We are aware of the events happening across the country, and are working diligently to ensure a safe venue for all. We have not received any threats in regards to the event at this time.”

None of the bombs detonated and no one was injured. Here’s a breakdown of what we know:

The packages had a similar return address

The pipe bombs were sent to a mix of office and residential addresses, and appeared to target some of the people President Donald Trump criticizes frequently. The five packages discovered Tuesday and Wednesday had a similar return address: That of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but with her last name misspelled. There is no information to suggest she sent the packages.

Barack Obama: The package sent to the former president was intercepted in Washington, D.C., during routine mail screening procedures, the Secret Service said.

Bill and Hillary Clinton: The package was addressed to their residence in Chappaqua, New York, and was intercepted Tuesday night by the Secret Service during routine mail inspection.

Eric Holder: The package was addressed to the former attorney general, but sent to the Florida office of Schultz, whose return address was on the package.

Maxine Waters: One package was sent to the Democratic congresswoman’s office in DC and a second package addressed to her was found at a postal facility in Los Angeles. It matches the description of those sent to the other officials.

John Brennan: The “live explosive device” was delivered by courier to CNN’s offices in New York. The former CIA director frequently appears on CNN. The NYPD said an envelope containing white powder also was found as part of the device’s original packaging.

Joe Biden: Authorities have located a suspicious package addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware, multiple law enforcement officials told CNN Thursday.

The package was considered suspicious due to its similarities to other packages sent this week to prominent Democrats and CNN, law enforcement officials said Thursday. The package was misaddressed and returned to sender, two law enforcement sources previously told CNN.

George Soros: A suspicious package found Monday appeared to be an explosive device targeting the billionaire investor, philanthropist and Democratic donor. It was rendered safe in Bedford, New York, a law enforcement source told CNN.

Robert De Niro: Shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday, police responded to a report of a suspicious package received at a nonresidential building in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, NYPD Lt. Thomas Antonetti said. The package was addressed to actor Robert De Niro, a vocal critic of Trump, and has markings similar to the other pipe bomb packages recently mailed nationwide, two law enforcement sources told CNN.

They came in similar packaging

The devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs, said Bryan Paarmann, FBI special agent in charge of the counterterrorism division in New York.

An initial examination shows they are are rudimentary but functional, and have similar construction. At least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass, a law enforcement official told CNN. The bombs were unstable and could have been set off just by handling, sources said.

The packages sent to all but Biden are in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior, the FBI said. Each package had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelope.

The bomb maker wanted to create fear, expert says

The bombs were likely meant to be found and create panic, explosives experts say.

The devices had suspicious-looking packaging, and at least one had a timer that can be bought for a few dollars online and should be easily detected when mailed or delivered.

Ryan Morris, founder of Tripwire Operations Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement and military officials, said that by examining images of two devices — the one found Monday at Soros’ home and the one sent to CNN’s New York offices on Wednesday — it looked like they were real devices that would cause serious bodily injury or death.

“Whoever is doing this is just trying to elicit a fear or disrupt something,” Morris said. “There are a multitude of more sophisticated methodologies that would have worked if they really wanted this to work.”

Trump blamed his opponents

President Donald Trump returned on Thursday to blaming the media for much of the “anger” in society, a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of explosive devices.

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description.”

“Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!” he continued.

Although the President has often derided the media as “fake news,” even labeling reporters the “enemy of the people,” Thursday’s tweet is especially striking in the wake of potential attacks on a major media outlet and political figures who have criticized him.

As Trump was tweeting, New York authorities were removing a suspicious package addressed to actor — and frequent Trump critic — Robert De Niro at a building in Lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. The package has markings similar to the pipe bomb packages recently mailed nationwide to top Democrats, two law enforcement sources said.

In the initial aftermath of the bomb discoveries Wednesday, Trump offered a more conventional presidential message of unity, condemning the attack and calling on Americans to “unify” and “come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that threats or acts of political violence have no place in the United States of America.”

Trump also began an evening rally in Wisconsin by voicing his desire for “all sides to come together in peace and harmony.”

But he later pointed the finger at the media, saying that the press has a “responsibility” to foster civility.

“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it,” he said at the rally.