Former firefighter who injured cops pleads guilty to felony for Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Robert Sanford, Jr. / DOJ photos

A Pennsylvania man who had served 26 years as a firefighter pleaded guilty today to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon – a fire extinguisher he threw at their heads -- during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Robert Sanford Jr., 57, of Chester, Penn., pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon, the Department of Justice reported today. The crime carries a maximum prescribed by federal sentencing guidelines.

That will depend upon whether the judge in the case accepts the prosecutor’s argument that the sentencing should be enhanced because of injuries caused to the officers, according to the terms of the plea deal. If the judge does not, the punishment range would be 46 to 57 months. Financial penalties also could apply. Judges are not bound to follow the guidelines.

Video footage from the riot shows Sanford drawing a fire extinguisher back in his right hand and hurling it at the heads of officers, the FBI alleged in its criminal complaint.

“The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. Immediately after throwing the object, (Sanford) moves quickly in the opposite direction.”

Sanford also threw a traffic cone in the direction of officers and screamed that they were “traitors,” it was alleged. Sanford was a 26-year veteran of the Chester Fire Department who left the force in February, according to earlier reporting from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sanford is to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2023. You can read the FBI statement of facts here.