Retired firefighter Robert Sanford accused of throwing fire extinguisher at Capitol police officers arrested

CHESTER, Pennsylvania — A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania is under arrest, accused of being the man seen on video throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers at the Capitol during the riot in Washington, D.C., last week.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Chester, 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.

An FBI agent cites the testimony of one of the Capitol officers, William Young, who was hit in the head by the fire extinguisher allegedly thrown by Sanford.

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“While Officer Young was on duty and attempting to control the crowd, he felt a hard strike to the back of his helmet,” the agent said. “When he turned to see where the blow had originated, Officer Young saw a fire extinguisher on the ground but could not determine who had struck him. Officer Young was subsequently evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty.”

Sanford 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 traveled to D.C. “on a bus with a group of people” who “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 is due in federal court in Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, but authorities said the case will be prosecuted in Washington.

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.

The assault on the video is separate from the ongoing investigation into the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot.

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