A retired firefighter from Chester, Pennsylvania is accused of being the man seen on video throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers at the Capitol during the deadly riot in Washington, D.C. last week.
Robert Sanford, 55, was arrested Thursday morning 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.
NEW: Retired Chester, Pa firefighter identified at Robert Sanford now faces federal charges after reportedly throwing a fire extinguisher at police during U.S. Capitol siege.
— George Solis (@GeorgeSolis) January 14, 2021
According to the charging documents, the extinguisher bounced off the heads of three officers, two of whom wore helmets.
Sanford traveled by bus with other people to the Capitol, according to documents.
Authorities said that Sanford 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.
BREAKING—They’ve arrested the man who threw the fire extinguisher at the police on Capitol siege day. Who is he? Retired firefighter Robert Sanford of Chester, PA—he faces three federal felony charges including assaulting a police officer. Oy. pic.twitter.com/2QQv6Hod9g
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 14, 2021
The retired firefighter was identified after a longtime friend of his contacted the FBI in Pennsylvania and said they recognized Sanford from photos put out by the FBI.
The friend said Sanford “had gone to the White House and listened to President Donald J. Trump’s speech and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol.”
Sanford marched to the Capitol following “the president’s instructions,” a complaining witness told the F.B.I.
“The defense added that allegations that he traveled to D.C. to commit crimes are inaccurate and he is not part of any extremist groups,” reports ABC News. “Prosecutors challenged that claim, saying authorities found a t-shirt associated with the far-right group Proud Boys at Sanford’s home after executing a search warrant.”
Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland said that while Sanford wore a hat with the fire department’s logo, he is not a current employee of the city of Chester. Sanford was a member of the Chester Fire Department from January 1994 until February 2020.