Capitol Riots: Retired firefighter arrested for assaulting police officers with extinguisher

Pennsylvania man lobbed fire extinguisher at three police officers, friend tipped off FBI that he was involved in riots

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 14 January 2021 19:01
I was with the rioters who stormed the Capitol - they knew exactly what they were doing

A former firefighter has been arrested after he was caught on video throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers during the Capitol riots. 

Robert Sanford, 55, from Pennsylvania, who recently retired from the Chester Fire Department, was arrested on charges that include assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder and unlawfully entering the Capitol.

He will appear in a virtual hearing in federal court in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Reuters reported.

His arrest is not connected to the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who also was attacked with a fire extinguisher during the storming of the Capitol. 

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The charging documents say: "The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head.” 

One of the officers, William Young, was taken to hospital but later cleared for duty, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr Sanford took a bus to the Capitol with a group of people and told a friend when he returned home that he had been on the grounds for 10 minutes before leaving but did not mention throwing anything at officers, authorities said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a tipster told the FBI that Mr Sanford had gone to the White House with the group to listen to the speech by President Trump “and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol". 

More than 50 police officers were injured during the riot, CNBC reported

The Justice Department has brought over 70 criminal cases since the riot. Many arrests have been made because of the large number of social media posts from the storming of the Capitol. The FBI is going through over 100,000 images and videos, Reuters reported.

Most of the rioters were allowed to leave DC, leading to authorities arresting members of the rioting mob all over the country. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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