Ret. Pa. FF arrested for allegedly throwing fire extinguisher at Capitol police

Robert Sanford is accused of being the man seen on video throwing an extinguisher that hit three officers at the Capitol riot


By Laura French

WASHINGTON — A retired Pennsylvania firefighter was arrested Thursday for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher at three police officers during the Capitol riot last week. 

A video showing a man throwing the extinguisher that hit three officers on the west side of the Capitol led to the arrest of Robert Sanford of Chester, Pa., who officials allege is the assailant, according to the Wall Street Journal. The fire extinguisher hit all three officers, one of whom was not wearing a helmet, in the head, an FBI special agent said in an affidavit.

Sanford faces three federal felony charges, including using a deadly weapon in a restricted area.

The incident related to Sanford's arrest is separate from the fatal assault of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also hit in the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot and later died from his injuries, officials said. 

A friend of Sanford reportedly tipped the FBI, saying that Sanford told them he had gone to Washington, D.C., that day and then went to the Capitol after listening to President Donald Trump's speech, according to the affidavit.

The tipster said Sanford had recently retired from the Chester Fire Department. The City of Chester Bureau of Fire posted a statement Thursday from Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland stating that Sanford was a member of the department from January 1994 to February 2020 and is not currently an employee of the city.

"If any person, be it a current or former employee or resident, is confirmed to have participated in last week's event at the Capitol, then we hope the legal system will work according to its purpose and bring them to justice," Kirkland stated. 

Kirkland also called the events of last Wednesday an "insurrection" that "hinged on characteristics of domestic terrorism" and offered his condolences to the loved ones of those who lost their lives.

Sanford, if convicted, faces up to 10 years in prison for the charge of using a deadly weapon in a restricted area. He is also charged with disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstructing law enforcement. 

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