A 43-year-old Everett-area man has been arrested in connection with suspicious packages containing “potential destructive devices” that were mailed to multiple U.S. military installations and to CIA headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area, the FBI announced early Tuesday.
FBI agents and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies took Thanh Cong Phan into custody at his Everett home Monday, the FBI said in a news release. He’s expected to make a first appearance in federal court in Seattle at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the FBI, suspicious packages were sent through the U.S. Mail to Fort Belvoir, Va.; Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.; Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.; Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Dahlgren, Va.; and the CIA in Langley, Va. The packages were collected and will be analyzed at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., the FBI said.
“The FBI investigation determined that the packages contained potential destructive devices and appeared to be sent by the same individual from the Seattle, Washington, area,” the FBI’s statement said. “… It is possible that further packages were mailed to additional mail processing facilities in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area.”
The suspect’s motive was not immediately clear, but an official said there was no immediate connection to terrorism.
In 2011, Phan was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a handgun following a mental-health call to his South Everett home, court records show.
“The defendant made some bizarre statements to (deputies), which gave the deputies concern about the defendant’s mental health and safety,” according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in Snohomish County Superior Court at the time.
Deputies took Phan into protective custody under an involuntary mental-health commitment. At the time, deputies confiscated a loaded .357-caliber handgun from Phan’s backpack, the affidavit states.
“Deputies later learned that the defendant was convicted of Second Degree Assault in 1990 and is prohibited by law from possession (of) firearms,” the affidavit states. Records indicate the case against Phan was later dismissed after he successfully completed a diversion program for individuals with substance abuse or mental health disorders known as “Therapeutic Alternatives to Prosecution.”
Two FBI agents on Tuesday morning blocked the driveway of the double-wide mobile home where Phan lives, with one agent saying they were restricting access. The agents said no one was inside.
Taped to a car parked outside the home and on Phan’s Facebook page are statements that reference phrases such as “terrorism” and “terro sympathetic.” The Facebook page also describes Phan as a “machinist.”
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that all of the packages sent to Defense Department facilities are under the control of the federal authorities.
“Basically there’s a set procedure, they went through the procedure,” said Mattis. “We’ve had nobody injured and all those packages and all the evidence is accessible and in the hands of the FBI right now.”
The suspicious packages were discovered less than a week after suspected Austin, Texas bombing suspect Mark Anthony Conditt blew himself up as law enforcement was about to arrest him.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf and staff reporter Christine Willmsen contributed to this report, which also contains information from The Associated Press.