US Capitol fire extinguisher suspect held

Sarah N. Lynch
·2-min read

A federal judge has ordered a retired firefighter in Pennsylvania to be detained pending trial after prosecutors filed charges alleging he hurled a fire extinguisher at police during last week's mob attack on the US Capitol.

Magistrate Judge Henry Perkin for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the alleged actions of Robert Sanford, 55, of Chester, Pennsylvania, posed a "danger to the community" as well as to "democracy and our legislators".

According to court documents, Sanford was captured on video hurling what appears to be a fire extinguisher at police. In sworn statements, investigators said the object ricocheted multiple times and struck three officers, one of whom was not wearing a helmet.

Prosecutors said in court on Thursday a search warrant executed at Sanford's home uncovered paraphernalia referencing the far-right Proud Boys group. Sanford's lawyer told the judge his client was not a member of any extremist group and had no criminal history.

The Justice Department has brought more than 80 criminal cases so far since supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, trying to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the U.S. presidential election.

The violence, which left five dead including a Capitol Police officer, led to the impeachment of Trump on Wednesday by the House of Representatives on a charge of inciting an insurrection.

Shortly before the attack, Trump had fired up a crowd of supporters, repeating his baseless claims that he won the election and urging them to go to the Capitol.

FBI director Chris Wray said on Thursday the FBI had arrested more than 100 people and has identified more than 200 suspects.

After the violence was quelled, most of the rioters were allowed to leave the Capitol, meaning law enforcement has had to track them down in the days since.

Others charges were filed on Thursday against Kevin Seefried, who was seen carrying a Confederate flag in the Capitol and his son Hunter, as well as Utah-based John Sullivan, who allegedly stormed the Capitol clad in a gas mask and ballistic vest and filmed the shooting of a woman by Capitol Police.

Earlier, five-time Olympic swimming medallist Klete Keller has been released from custody on charges of civil disorder, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, and ordered to stay away from Washington DC until after next week's inauguration.