Federal authorities on Thursday arrested another handful of Capitol insurrectionists, including a retired Pennsylvania firefighter accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers, a man photographed holding a Confederate flag inside the Capitol, and a former school therapist.
Robert Sanford, a 55-year-old from Chester, Pennsylvania, faces three felony charges, including assaulting a police officer, after he was allegedly caught on camera hurling the extinguisher as the mob stormed past Capitol Police officers and broke into the building on Jan. 6. He was taken into custody by the FBI in Pennsylvania Thursday morning just before 6 a.m., a source with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast. The Wall Street Journal first reported the arrest.
One video shows rioters storming past a barricade as police desperately try to contain them on the west side of the building. A rioter, identified in a criminal complaint as Sanford, can be seen tossing the fire extinguisher, striking at least one on the helmet. The extinguisher ricocheted and struck two more cops, including one who wasn’t wearing a helmut.
According to the complaint, Sanford admitted to a friend that he was the person photographed at the riot in a CFD hat. That friend ultimately tipped off the feds and said Sanford had traveled to D.C. by bus with a group of people. The friend added that Sanford had claimed he was only on the Capitol grounds for about 10 minutes—and never mentioned throwing any objects.
Capitol Police officer William Young, who was hit by the fire extinguisher, told investigators he was among 20 officers and two sergeants who were attempting to control the crowd when he felt “a hard strike to the back of his helmet” and saw the extinguisher on the ground. He went to the hospital but has since been cleared for duty.
During an initial court appearance on Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin ordered Sanford held without bail. His defense attorney, Enrique Latoison, argued that Sanford did not go to D.C. with the intent of rioting and was not connected to any extremist groups.
Prosecutors, however, said they found a T-shirt associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, in Sanford’s house during a Thursday search.
Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland confirmed to The Daily Beast that Sanford was a member of the city’s fire department from January 1994 to February 2020. “As the First Amendment of our Constitution outlines the right to free speech and to peaceful assembly, the actions of the rioters in D.C. last week hinged on characteristics of domestic terrorism,” Kirkland said in a statement, adding that any city resident or employee who took part in the riot should be brought to justice.
This incident did not involve Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was separately hit in the head by rioters with a fire extinguisher and later died. Four pro-Trump protesters also died in the mayhem.
Christine Priola, a 49-year-old former occupational therapist for the Cleveland Municipal School District, was also arrested Thursday after making her way into the Senate Chamber with a sign that read: “The Children Cry Out Of Justice.” Photos of Priola show her standing next to the vice president’s seat, wearing pants that have Trump’s name on them.
Charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and unlawful activities, Priola is currently in the custody of U.S. Marshals.
Priola resigned from her school position last Thursday, claiming in a conspiracy-filled letter she wanted to switch career paths to focus on exposing human trafficking, WTOL reported. She also wrote that she doesn’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine—which is required for teachers returning to in-person school—and does not support paying union dues because the money is being used to “fund people and groups that support the killing of unborn children.”
Kevin Seefried, a 50-year-old Delaware man who was wanted by the FBI after being photographed carrying the Confederate battle flag outside the Senate floor, was arrested along with his son on Thursday, The New York Times first reported.
Prosecutors allege Seefried and his son, Hunter, entered the Senate building through a broken window. They both face charges including entering a restricted building without lawful authority, and degradation of government property.
The father and son were with a large group that “verbally confronted” several Capitol Police officers. Hunter was also seen in video footage taking a “selfie.” Investigators were tipped off to the pair’s identity after one of Hunter’s co-workers told officials he’d “bragged about being in the Capitol with his father,” according to court documents.
Thomas Gallagher, 61, was arrested on several charges on Thursday for allegedly refusing Capitol Police commands near the House Atrium during Jan. 6 attack. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire on Thursday.
Hunter Allen Ehmke, of California, also faces several charges, including destroying government property and obstruction of an official proceeding, after he allegedly broke a Capitol window during the riots. According to a criminal complaint, a Capitol Police officer noticed Ehmke standing on a ledge near the Rotunda steps that lead to a window for an “interior office of the building.” The officer saw Ehmke wave over other rioters and shouted, “They’re going to break the window,” before witnessing him punch through the glass.
The complaint states the officer told Ehmke to “get away from the window” before hitting him in the lower body.
“This disoriented Ehmke, but he remained standing on the ledge. While using the CDU shield again, Officer Fluke attempted to push Ehmke again, causing Ehmke to fall to the ground on the landing. Officer Fluke lost grip of the shield and fell to the ground that was covered in shards of glass,” the complaint states. “While Ehmke lay face-down on the ground, two other officers with the U.S. Capitol Police pulled Ehmke’s arms behind his back and detained him with handcuffs.”
Officers then set up a perimeter with police shields to block the broken window from the rioters. They eventually let Ehmke go when the mob grew too large, outnumbering them, according to the court documents.
Dozens of rioters have been rounded up in the days since they stormed the Capitol last week. On Wednesday, an Olympic gold medalist, two Virginia cops, an MTA worker, a former Peace Corps member, and a man who wore a sweatshirt with the phrase “Camp Auschwitz” on it as he stormed the Capitol were all charged for their roles in the insurrection.
Robert Keith Packer, the 56-year-old who wore a sweatshirt with the phrase “Camp Auschwitz” on it as he stormed the Capitol, was released on his own recognizance on Wednesday. He’s been ordered to stay away from D.C. and appear at a virtual hearing next week.
On Tuesday, a prominent Brooklyn judge’s son was arrested for stealing government property after he was pictured in the Capitol wearing a police bulletproof vest over fur pelts and carrying a plastic riot shield with Capitol Police insignia. He has also been released on bail and ordered to stay in the New York area.
They are among several rioters who have been released after their arrests, despite warnings from the Secret Service of additional armed and potentially violent protests in Washington before and after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Other arrested rioters include Richard Barnett, a self-described white nationalist from Arkansas who posed for gleeful photos in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office; Adam Johnson, a Florida stay-at-home dad who was photographed grinning while absconding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern; and Jake Angeli, the shirt-less, horn-wearing Arizona resident known as the “QAnon Shaman.”
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