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Arrest in explosive devices investigation; read the PC that led to the breakthrough

The U.S. Attorney has announced the arrest of a 40-year-old Beaumont man investigators say is linked by evidence to the explosive devices at Starbucks and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

Officers arrested Jonathan Matthew Torres at his home Thursday in the 4400 block of El Paso Avenue near Fillmore in north Beaumont. The mugshot in this story is from a 2015 arrest on drug charges.

If convicted, he could face 5-20 years in federal prison.

Agents say they're trying to determine a motive. They say there are no ties to terrorism nor any evidence of a hate crime.

Investigators say inside the residence, they recovered multiple containers of the same type of explosive material used in both previously discussed devices; postal boxes similar to the boxes used in the previously discussed devices; a receipt for the purchase of the type of string used in the device found at Starbucks; zip-ties similar to the type used in the device found at Starbucks; packing tape similar to the type used in the device found at Starbucks; and other components consistent with the devices.

According to a criminal complaint we've linked to this story, a mousetrap was used as a triggering mechanism for the devices and they contained nails and screws.

An ATF agent whose name is listed on the criminal complaint says the device discovered April 26 at Starbucks contained a note with peel and stick letters on an index card stating "HAJI DIE USA - JH".

On April 27, the day after the device was discovered and disabled, Beaumont Police received a suspicious note similar to the note left in the package at Starbucks, stating "DO YOU WANT BEAUMONT TO BECOME ANOTHER AUSTIN", and it was signed "J HANCOCK."

On May 11, the day after the explosive device detonated at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Beaumont, BPD received another postcard that appeared to be from the same sender. It contained an image by DC Comics of a "V for Vendetta" and stated "WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME? JH".

On May 14, BPD received another postcard with an image of the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" that stated "There were two others Did you not get them? JH".

On May 17, BPD received a postcard that was written in green ink. It contained an image by DC Comics of "The Atom" and stated "None of these have been deemed a credible threat' JH". According to BPD, this quote is a direct quote taken from a press release BPD issued after the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church incident. The ATF agent says that postcard and one received May 11 have the same printed manufacturer's language identifying the postcards as being from the same set of DC postcards.

Investigators say they identified Torres as a suspect and obtained postcards known to have been mailed by him. They say the postcards had images of cartoons and four of them had the same type of stamp as the postcard mailed to BPD.

The criminal complaint states the writing pattern and multiple colors of ink are similar to the postcards mailed to BPD.

Investigators say Torres bought screws from Home Depot that are consistent with screws recovered from the device at St. Stephen's.

They also state that Thursday, investigators executed a search warrant at his home and found multiple containers, one of which was empty, of the same type of explosive material used in devices found at Starbucks and St. Stephen's; postal boxes similar to the boxes used in those devices; a receipt for purchase of the type of string used in the Starbuck's device; packing tape similar to the type used in the Starbuck's device; and other components consistent with the devices.

Torres was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court charging him with use of an explosive to damage property, mailing a threatening communication, and possession of an unregistered destructive device. Torres will appear in federal court on May 29, 2018 on these charges.


From U.S. Attorney's Office - A 40-year-old Beaumont, Texas man has been arrested for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.

Jonathan Matthew Torres was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court charging him with use of an explosive to damage property, mailing a threatening communication, and possession of an unregistered destructive device. Torres will appear in federal court on May 29, 2018 on these charges.

According to information presented in court, on Apr. 26, 2018, what appeared to be a homemade destructive device was located inside a U.S. Postal Service priority mail service box at a Starbucks on Dowlen Road in Beaumont. The device did not explode and there were no injuries. On May 10, 2018, an explosion occurred at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Delaware Street in Beaumont. The explosive device caused damage to St. Stephen’s administration building but there were no injuries. An extensive investigation led law enforcement authorities to Torres and on May 24, 2018, a search warrant was executed at Torres’s residence in the 4400 block of El Paso Street in Beaumont, Texas. Inside the residence, investigators recovered multiple containers of the same type of explosive material used in both previously discussed devices; postal boxes similar to the boxes used in the previously discussed devices; a receipt for the purchase of the type of string used in the device found at Starbucks; zip-ties similar to the type used in the device found at Starbucks; packing tape similar to the type used in the device found at Starbucks; and other components consistent with the devices. Torres was arrested without incident.

If convicted, Torres faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison.

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, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and Russell James.

It is important to note that a complaint, arrest, or indictment should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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