BEAUMONT, Texas – A 42-year-old Beaumont, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for a bombing incident in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox today.
In October 2019, Jonathan Matthew Torres was found guilty at trial of using an explosive device to cause property damage and possession of an unregistered destructive device. Torres was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield on Sep. 8, 2020.
“In the wake of the Austin bombings, Torres preyed upon Beaumont with his own explosives and a series of threats,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox. “Our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners took heroic action, reassuring the Beaumont community and using cutting-edge investigative techniques to ensure public safety.”
“For several weeks, Jonathan Matthew Torres created fear, panic and insecurity for Beaumont residents,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner. “Having just experienced the destruction and loss of life carried out by the Austin package bomber the month prior, we were determined to not let the Beaumont community suffer a similar tragedy. Through the nonstop work of FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and our partners at the Beaumont Police Department, ATF, US Postal Inspection Service, and DPS, this individual was finally identified, arrested and will now serve his time in prison.”
“Combining resources with our federal and state counterparts to solve cases involving the criminal misuse of explosives to keep our communities safe, remains one of ATF’s top priorities,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski.
According to information presented in court, on April 26, 2018, federal agents discovered what appeared to be a homemade destructive device inside a U.S. Postal Service priority mail service box at a Starbucks on Dowlen Road in Beaumont. Shortly after discovering the device, the Beaumont Police department began receiving cryptic postcards referencing the bombing. One of those postcards read “DO YOU WANT BMT TO BECOME ANOTHER AUSTIN . . . .” This postcard appeared to reference serial bombings that occurred approximately a month prior, in Austin, Texas. During the course of those Austin bombings, five package bombs exploded killing two people and injuring another five. In the light of Torres’ reference to Austin, and the potential danger to the Beaumont community, federal law enforcement agencies dispatched dozens of agents and other personnel from around the country to assist the Beaumont Police Department and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation. During the course of the investigation, the law enforcement partners deployed advanced investigative tools and tactics, including state-of-the-art forensic analysis to develop possible suspects in the case.
In the midst of the investigation, on May 10, 2018, an explosion occurred at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Delaware Street in Beaumont. The explosion caused damage to St. Stephen’s administration building; fortunately, there were no injuries. After the St. Stephen’s bombing, law enforcement partners conducted a forensic analysis of the two devices and other evidence collected during the course of the investigation, resulting in the identification of Torres as a potential suspect. On May 24, 2018, agents executed a search warrant at Torres’ 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 aforementioned 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 destructive devices. Agents arrested Torres without incident, and he was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 6, 2018.
This case was 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. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell James and Christopher T. Tortorice.