A retired Pennsylvania firefighter was arrested Thursday on federal charges that he threw a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol Police officers during the violent siege on the Capitol last week.
Robert Sanford, who retired last March from the Chester Fire Department in Pennsylvania, was arrested Thursday on charges that include assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, civil disorder and unlawfully entering the Capitol.
The charges against Sanford are not related to the widely publicized attack on Officer Brian Sicknick, who also was attacked with a fire extinguisher during the siege and died.
The FBI had asked the public this week to help identify a man seen in video stills who wore a hat with the letters CFD, picked up a fire extinguisher and threw it at police outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to documents, the extinguisher bounced off the heads of three officers, two of whom wore helmets.
The photo garnered attention in Chicago for the CFD lettering on the hat, which many thought could stand for Chicago Fire Department.
Attorney John Nisivaco said his client, a retired Chicago firefighter, was "accused on the internet" of being the man seen in the photo, calling it a "case of mistaken identity on social media" and saying it turned his client's "life upside down." A press conference is scheduled for Friday on the matter.
"We are thankful the true perpetrator has been brought to justice and our former member, who was wrongly accused, has been exonerated," the Chicago Fire Department wrote on Facebook. "Please do your part to stop the spread of disinformation."
Sanford surrendered in the case after authorities say a friend saw the photos and contacted police.
Sanford, 55, traveled by bus with other people to the Capitol, according to documents. He 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, authorities said.
Sanford's lawyer argued that Sanford should be released on bail, citing his lengthy service as a firefighter, his strong family ties and his lack of a criminal record. Sanford did not go to Washington with the intent of rioting, and does not belong to any extremist groups, defense lawyer Enrique Latoison argued.
A federal prosecutor noted that a search of Sanford's house Thursday turned up T-shirt associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group.
Noting the seriousness of the charges, the judge ordered Sanford to be held without bail, saying he presented a danger to the community.