Former firefighter arrested for throwing fire extinguisher at Capitol police

The extinguisher bounced off the officer’s helmet before striking another officer in the head who was not wearing a helmet.

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Recorded on video throwing a fire extinguisher at several Capitol police officers last week, a retired Pennsylvania firefighter was arrested Thursday on four federal charges, including knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting officers engaging in their official duties.

According to a video recorded during the Capitol riots on January 6, Robert Sanford, who retired from the Chester Fire Department in February 2020, walked toward a group of Capitol police officers while carrying a fire extinguisher. Sanford suddenly threw the fire extinguisher at the back of an officer’s head.

The extinguisher bounced off the officer’s helmet before striking another officer in the head who was not wearing a helmet. The extinguisher appeared to hit another officer before falling to the ground.

According to police officials, Officer Brian Sicknick was not one of the officers attacked in the video. Officer Sicknick died after being beaten by Capitol rioters.

After recognizing Sanford from a series of photos released by the FBI, a longtime friend contacted an FBI office in Pennsylvania and reported him to the authorities. While executing a search warrant at Sanford’s home, law enforcement found a t-shirt associated with the far-right group Proud Boys. Although Sanford wore a hat with the fire department’s logo, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland confirmed that Sanford retired from the fire department last year and no longer works for the city.

Charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct on capitol grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers while engaged in the performance of official duties, Sanford is being held without bail. The judge refused to allow Sanford to be released on bail because he presented a danger to the community.

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