Retired Firefighter, Who Allegedly Threw Fire Extinguisher at Capitol Police During D.C. Riot, Is Arrested
A man wanted by the FBI for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol police officers in last week's deadly Washington, D.C., riot has been charged in federal court.
ABCNY7, CNN and WUSA9 report that Robert Sanford, 55, a retired firefighter from Chester, Pennsylvania, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with four federal charges, including knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder and assaulting officers engaging in their official duties.
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Sanford was allegedly seen on video throwing a "red object, which appears to be a fire extinguisher" at a number of Capitol police officers at the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to court documents, CNN reports. The fire extinguisher bounced off the head of one officer before hitting two additional officers. (This was a separate incident from the one in which Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick was killed, though Sicknick was also allegedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the siege.)
After the incident, the FBI released photos of the then-unidentified Sanford, saying he was wanted for questioning.
Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, initially posted the photos of Sanford on his Twitter feed, saying the man was wanted for questioning in connection with the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. But he later amended that claim, tweeting, "Capitol Police has informed me the individual in my previous tweet is a person of interest, but for a separate incident that occurred at the Capitol on Jan 6th. Deleted tweet to prevent further confusion."
The photos show Sanford in a navy hat with "CFD" on it.
Sanford was identified as the man in question after one of his friends recognized him from the released photos. Sanford was identified on Tuesday to the FBI's Pennsylvania outpost before being charged on Wednesday in US District Court, CNN reports.
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On Thursday, Chester mayor Thaddeus Kirkland released a statement noting that Sanford is no longer an employee of the city, as he retired last year: "…While Robert Sanford adorned a hat with a Fire Department logo, he is not a current employee of the city of Chester."
Sanford made his initial appearance in a federal court in Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, the Morning Call reports. He was denied release and will now stay in custody of the U.S. Marshals until he is moved to D.C.
While executing a search warrant of Sanford's Pennsylvania home, authorities allegedly found a tee shirt linked with the far-right group Proud Boys, 6ABC reports.
Sanford claims he doesn't own a Proud Boys t-shirt, his attorney Enrique Latoison noted after Thursday's hearing. "He's not involved in any white supremacist organization whatsoever and he doesn't know what they're talking about," Latoison said, the Morning Call reports, though Latoison admitted his client had taken a free bus trip to the pro-Trump rally in D.C. on January 6.
The former firefighter is one of at least 36 people now facing federal charges in connection with last week's violent insurrection.
PEOPLE was unable to reach Sanford's attorney for comment.
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