Ex-firefighter charged after officers hit with fire extinguisher at Capitol riot

Pennsylvania man not responsible for Capitol officer’s death, police say

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Capitol police’s response to rioters drawing claims of double standards

A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania was arrested Thursday on charges he hit three police officers in the head with a fire extinguisher during last week’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Upper Chichester was taken into custody early Thursday morning and charged with assaulting a police officer, according to CBS News citing law enforcement sources.

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Authorities said Sanford is not a suspect in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was also reportedly struck in the head by a fire extinguisher as President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed Congress Jan. 6 in an attempt to overthrow confirmation of Joe Biden’s election win.

As Congressional offices and chambers were ransacked, lawmakers hid the Electoral College ballots from the angry mob. Six people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

The insurrection was the culmination of a false conspiracy theory being spread by Trump and others in the GOP putting forth the notion that widespread voter fraud got Biden elected and cheated the incumbent out of a second term.

Federal agents have fanned out around the country and arrested dozens who participated in the assault.

More than 200 suspects have been identified and 100 arrests made so far in the riot, FBI Director Christopher Wray announced Thursday in a security briefing ahead of the inauguration.

The FBI has received more than 126,000 photo and video tips this week, according to The Washington Post.

Suspects have been taken into custody in Georgia New York, Maryland, Texas and Florida.

Hundreds more face arrest once all the evidence is sorted out, with detectives poring over camera footage from the raucous scene and scrubbing passenger manifests to find out who traveled to and from Washington that day. An FBI command center is also being set up in Texas with the hope of rounding up more of the alleged insurrectionists.

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Many suspects face a variety of misdemeanor charges like unlawful entry, disorderly conduct and theft. Those charges, however, are likely to be upgraded to federal felonies with lengthy prison terms as the investigation continues to uncover the full scale and depth of the attack, reports said.

A team of federal prosecutors is seeking to file more serious charges including sedition and conspiracy, according to Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

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Reports said police saw Sanford on video hurling an extinguisher at several officers during the uprising that left five people dead.

The Chester Fire Department issued a statement denouncing the riots and said Sanford was no longer employed there despite being spotted in the riot wearing a hat with the department’s insignia.

Sanford was employed with the department from 1994 until he retired in February 2020, CBS reports.

“As the First Amendment of our Constitution outlines the right to free speech and to peaceful assembly, the actions of the rioters in D.C. last week hinged on characteristics of domestic terrorism,” the statement read. “As such, if any person, be it current or former employee or resident, is confirmed to have participated in last week’s event at the Capitol, then we hope our legal system will work according to its purpose and bring them to justice.”