BEAUMONT — A 40-year-old Beaumont man has been arrested in connection with a recent package bomb that detonated at a Beaumont church and a device that was found at a Beaumont Starbucks.
Jonathan Matthew Torres, 40, has been arrested in connection with both devices according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Beaumont.
Beaumont Police received a suspicious note on April 27, 2018, one day after a device was discovered at a Beaumont Starbuck's, that read, "DO YOU WANT BMT TO BECOME ANOTHER AUSTIN?" according to the criminal complaint against Torres.
The note was singed "J HANCOCK."
READ MORE | Press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office
He will appear in federal court on May 29, 2018 on charges of the use of an explosive to damage property, mailing a threatening communication and possession of an unregistered destructive device the release said.
If convicted he faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison the release said.
Torres was arrested at his home in the 4400 block of El Paso Avenue late Thursday afternoon without incident according to the release.
Investigators found multiple containers, one of which was empty, of the same type of explosive material used in both the St Stephen's Church and Starbucks devices.
They also found U.S. Postal service boxes similar to ones used in both devices, a receipt for the purchase of the same type of string, similar zip-ties and packing tape similar to what was used in the device at Starbuck's as well as other components similar to both devices the release said.
Torres is accused of leaving a "homemade destructive device" inside a U.S. Postal Service priority mail box at the Starbucks on Dowlen Road in Beaumont on April 26, 2018.
The device did not explode, however, police said at the time that had it detonated as intended it could have caused injuries.
A note made with peel and stick letters on a note card found with the device at Starbuck's read "HAJI DIE USA --JH" according to the criminal complaint.
"Haji" is often used as a derogatory term for someone of Arabic descent and, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a term for a Muslim who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The package containing the device was originally found by customers and Starbuck's employees early in the morning on April 24, 2018 but was not opened until April 26 the complaint said.
The device contained explosive material and a mousetrap that was intended to be the triggering device by having the hammer of the mousetrap close when the box was opened according to the complaint.
Beaumont Police received a note reading "DO YOU WANT BMT TO BECOME ANOTHER AUSTIN?" the next day, April 27.
Torres is also accused of detonating a bomb at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Delaware Street in Beaumont on May 10, 2018.
The bomb at St Stephen's damaged the church's office building but no one was injured.
Beaumont Police also received three postcards on May 11, 14 and 17, 2018, that appeared to be from the sender of the first note on April 27, 2018.
The May 11 postcard, with DC Comics' "V for Vendetta"art work, was received tha day after the St Stephen's bomb and read, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME?JH'," the complaint said.
The May 14, 2018 postcard, bearing an image of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, read "There were two others Did you not get them?JH."
The May 17, 2018, postcard was written in green ink and had an image of DC Comic's "The Atom." The writer had inscribed a direct quote from a Beaumont Police news release from the day after the St. Stephen's bomb reading, "'None of these have been deemed a credible threat.'JH."
"The Atom" postcard from May 17 came from the same line of DC Comics postcards as the May 11 postcard featuring "V for Vendetta" the complaint said.
Investigators also discovered other postcards known to have been mailed by Torres that all contained cartoons. Four of them used the same type of stamp as the May 14 postcard sent to police.
Torres also drew lines on several known postcards to write the recipient's addresses which matched up with two of the cards sent to police the complaint said.
Several postcards mailed by Torres also used multiple colors of ink as did the cards sent to police.
Investigators also learned that in November 2016 Torres reported that a roommate named "John Hancock" had stolen four guns from him the complaint said.
On April 24, 2018, Torres also purchased #10 screws at the Home Depot in Beaumont which are consistent with screws in the St. Stephen's bomb according to the complaint.
If you have any information related to these events, please call Beaumont Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-CALL-FBI.
This case is being investigated by the Beaumont Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and Russell James are prosecuting the case the release said.