Authorities took Helder, a Minnesota native, into custody outside Reno, Nevada just eight hours after the FBI issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest. Helder’s family also made an appeal for the student to turn himself in.
Alan Davidson, a spokesman for the Nevada Highway Patrol, told the Associated Press Helder dropped at least one gun out the window of his car before his arrest. Officials said a bomb squad was called in to check Helder’s car for explosives.
Late Tuesday, Federal prosecutors in Iowa charged Helder with using an explosive to maliciously destroy property affecting interstate commerce and with using a destructive device to commit a crime of violence.
The first of the bombs was discovered in an Illinois mailbox on Friday. Since then, others have been found in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas. Six people have been wounded by the bombs, but none seriously.
Helder, an art major, attends the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Local authorities in his home town of Pine Island, Minn. say he has no criminal record.
Typewritten letters accompanying the bombs contained anti-government messages with the words, “The United States strives to provide freedom for their people. Do we really have personal freedom? I’ve lived here for many years, and I see much limitation.”
“Do you people enjoy this trend of limitation? If not, change it!” the letters said.
Earlier Tuesday, officials warned residents with free-standing mailboxes in the targeted areas to leave the boxes open so mail carriers don’t endanger themselves while delivering the mail.