Luke J. Helder of Pine Island, Minn., was captured after dropping a gun out his car window, the FBI said. A bomb squad was called to check the vehicle for explosives.
Helder was stopped more than 1,500 miles from western Illinois, where some of the first bombs were found. After his license plate and car description were broadcast nationwide Tuesday, a motorist on Interstate 80 spotted Helder's westbound vehicle and tipped off authorities.
Helder was pulled over after a 40-mile chase that reached 100 mph.
"The FBI contacted him on his cell phone and started negotiations with him, and asked us to back off," said Major Rick Bradley of the Nevada Highway Patrol. "Then he slowed down."
FBI agent Terry Hulse said Helder telephoned his parents during the chase and was patched through to an FBI negotiator. He said Helder stayed on the phone with the FBI after pulling over and volunteered to surrender if he was not harmed.
"He requested not to be tackled," Davidson said. "He surrendered the gun and was taken into custody without incident."
Helder jailed in Reno, and federal prosecutors in Iowa charged him with using an explosive to maliciously destroy property affecting interstate commerce and with using a destructive device to commit a crime of violence. The charges carry penalties of up to life in prison and fines of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Charles W. Larson said Helder was responsible for the cuts and shrapnel wounds suffered Friday by Delores Werling, 70, of Tipton, Iowa.
Hours earlier, the FBI had issued an all-points bulletin for Helder in connection with the string of up to 18 pipe bombs left in mailboxes in five states, and his father pleaded: "Please don't hurt anyone else. ... You have the attention you wanted."
Authorities originally thought Helder was somewhere in Texas, where the latest bomb was found, FBI agent Jim Bogner said in Omaha, where the investigation is centered.
Agents said Helder was seen driving a dark gray or black 1992 Honda Accord with Minnesota license plates "EZL 873".
"He has been described as an intelligent young man with strong family ties," said Jim Bogner. "We need to talk to Luke Helder. We need to solve this aspect of the investigation."
He was registered at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie as a junior majoring in art with an industrial design concentration, university officials said.
Local police there said he does not have a criminal record. The car the FBI said he was driving is registered to a family member.
FBI agents searched Helder's apartment in a two-story building near campus. Menomonie police spokesman Brian Swantz said two houses nearby were evacuated because of "potential danger" but refused to elaborate.
The pipe bomb found in Amarillo, Texas Tuesday was similar to 17 others found in the Midwest and Colorado, the FBI said. Amarillo is about 325 miles southeast of Salida, Colo., where one pipe bomb was found Monday. The other 16 were found in the Midwest.
Six people have been wounded -- none seriously -- by the bombs, which have been turning up since Friday in mailboxes in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas. Most of the bombs were accompanied by anti-government notes warning of more "attention getters" on the way.
Earlier Tuesday, at Helder's family's home an hour's drive southeast of Minneapolis, his father, Cameron, read a statement urging his son to call home.
"I really want you to know that Luke is not a dangerous person," Cameron Helder said. "I think he's just trying to make a statement about the way our government is run. I think Luke wants people to listen to his ideas, and not enough people are hearing him, and he thinks this may help."
He added: "Luke, you need to talk to someone. Please don't hurt anyone else. It's time to talk. You have the attention you wanted. Luke, we love you very much. We want you home safe."
CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports the FBI believed the bomber was de-accelerating his attacks. The bomb found in Texas had no battery and a note that said, "I know I can hurt people...but I don't want to."
Officials described the bombs as three-quarter-inch steel pipes attached to 9-volt batteries and said they appeared to be triggered by being touched or moved.
The first eight bombs were found Friday in Illinois and Iowa, including six that injured four letter carriers and two customers. Eight more were found in Nebraska and the 17th turned up in Salida, Colo., on Monday. None of those exploded.
The FBI said all 17 of those bombs came from the same source.