WASHINGTON – The manhunt for key figures in the storming of the U.S. Capitol apprehended more key figures Thursday, including two men accused of attacking police officers, a Utah man who allegedly recorded the shooting death of one rioter, and a Delaware father and son photographed carrying a Confederate flag.
Robert Lee Sanford, Jr., 55, of Chester, Penn., a recently retired firefighter, threw a fire extinguisher at members of the Capitol Police, according to law enforcement. Peter Francis Stager, of Arkansas, is accused of using a large American flag to beat a member of the D.C. police.
Kevin Seefried, who was photographed carrying a Confederate flag inside the Capitol, turned himself in to authorities in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday morning, according to an FBI spokeswoman, Joy Jiras. He and his son, Hunter Seefried, are charged with misdemeanor counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct; Hunter Seefried is also accused of destruction of property.
John Earle Sullivan, 26, of Utah, was charged after allegedly entering the building and recording when Ashli Babbitt was shot by an officer while she attempted to climb through an opening outside of the Speaker’s Lobby. In a video he posted online and gave the FBI, Sullivan could be heard narrating the riot, saying “There are so many people. Let’s go. This [expletive] is ours! [Expletive] yeah,” and “Let’s burn this [expletive] down!” according to charging papers.
Newly public arrest affidavits continued to fill in a picture of chaos, violence and gleeful mayhem on part of some rioters, including several who said they came to Washington to rally with President Donald Trump and then “went crazy” when Vice President Mike Pence announced he would not agree to block the certification of Trump’s defeat.
The extinguisher incident connected to Sanford was captured in two widely distributed videos of the scene outside the U.S. Capitol at the Lower West Terrace. U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the riot, was hurt in a separate incident.
Stanger was identified from videos in which a D.C. officer is seen being dragged down the steps of the Capitol and attacked. He later gave an interview in which he declared, “Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building.”
According to an affidavit, Stanger told an informant that he did not realize the man he attacked was a police officer and instead believed him to be a left-wing activist. The same informant told the FBI that Stanger planned to apologize to his children and turn himself in to law enforcement.
The agent who wrote the affidavit said after watching videos of the attack, Stanger “was able to clearly see the police markings on B.M.’s uniform and was aware that the individual who he was striking was, in fact, law enforcement.”
In charging papers, the FBI said a tipster in Pennsylvania called Tuesday saying that Sanford, a friend of many years, “had confessed to the complainant that he was the person that the FBI was looking for” in connection with videos showing a man apparently wearing a stocking cap, dark jacket, plaid shirt and backpack hurling an object at a group officers.
A Capitol Police officer was struck in the helmet by what he later saw was a fire extinguisher, the FBI said. The officer was evaluated at a hospital and cleared to return to duty. The device also ricocheted off two others, the FBI said in a charging affidavit.
The tipster said Sanford told them he traveled on a bus with a group to Washington, listened to Trump’s speech, “and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol,” according to the FBI.
Sanford said the group he was with left the Capitol grounds after about 10 minutes, and did not mention having thrown anything, but acknowledged he was the man wearing a hat with the initials CFD, the tipster said, according to FBI Agent Samad D. Shahrani.
Sanford recently retired from the Chester Fire Department, the agent said, and the complainant identified him in video to the FBI.
The FBI said it had also received an anonymous tip identifying another person as the person throwing the fire extinguisher, but that the Illinois resident did not appear on flight manifests to the Washington area nor was the license plate of his vehicle entered into D.C. logs at the time.
“I’m just stunned,” said retired Chester Fire Department battalion chief Charles Hopkins Jr. “That’s totally out of character for him.” He described Sanford as a “quiet guy” who “never messed with anyone … he did his job and went home.” He added, “If you weren’t working with him you wouldn’t know he was there.”
In a statement, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland said Sanford joined the department in 1994, retired last February and is not a current employee.
“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 added. “As such, if any person, be it current or former employee or resident, is confirmed to have participated in last week’s event at the Capitol, then we hope our legal system will work according to its purpose and bring them to justice.”
Kevin and Hunter Seefried were identified as among the first group to break into the Capitol after a colleague called the FBI to report that the younger man had bragged about being at the riot with his father, according to court records. In an interview, authorities say Kevin Seefried acknowledged being the man photographed with the Confederate flag, which normally hangs outside his Delaware home.
The men entered the Senate Building through a broken window at about 2:13 p.m., with a helmeted group captured in a widely shared video, according to an arrest affidavit.
According to court records, Kevin Seefried said both men came to hear Trump’s speech, and then marched to the Capitol led by a person with a bull horn. He also confirmed that because his son was wearing gloves, Hunter Seefried was asked by a stranger to punch out glass from a Capitol complex window after others broke it with a 2×4 wooden plank, giving rioters entry, the FBI said.
Also charged was Hunter Ehmke, of California. He is accused of being one of the first to try to break into the U.S. Capitol by breaking a window of the building during last week’s riot, according to court documents
An officer who was part of a line struggling to hold back the mob on the Capitol’s east side at about 2:15 p.m., that he saw Ehmke on the ledge gesturing for others to join him, court documents said.
“They’re going to break the window” the officer shouted. He then left the line and ran toward Ehmke, according to the affidavit. He used his riot shield to push Ehmke off the ledge, he says, causing them both to fall in broken glass, the affidavit said. About 10 officers made a new line at the window to keep a small crowd from getting through. Ehmke was handcuffed.
But the crowd “began to show aggression” and threatened officers, saying, “You’re not leaving with him,” according to court papers. The officers tried to radio for instructions but “could not be clearly heard or unable to be broadcast due to the many other calls of service by USCP officers.” So they let Ehmke leave, after photographing him and the window and seizing his driver’s license and advising him they would seek a warrant for his arrest.
The Justice Department and the FBI have carried out a nationwide manhunt in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach by Trump supporters, during which a woman was fatally shot by police and an officer died after he was injured.
Prosecutors have called the investigation one of the largest ever undertaken by the FBI, and it has led to charges against more than 70 people and the identification of 170 suspects to date.
Also Thursday, a New York man who authorities say drove to the Washington area from that state to take part in the protest was denied bail for the second time by Arlington Circuit Court.
Moses Geri, 38, of Weedsport, N.Y., was arrested Jan. 1 after allegedly getting in a drunken argument with other guests at his Rosslyn, Va., hotel and then firing a gun outside. He had more than 800 rounds of ammunition, including white phosphorous and armor-piercing bullets, according to prosecutors.
Also charged with misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct were Christine Marie Priola of Willoughby, Ohio, who the U.S. Marshals Service alleged was the person photographed wearing a red jacket and blue “MAGA” pants and holding a sign reading “The Children Cry Out for Justice,” and apparently photographing a rioter occupying Pence’s chair on the Senate dais; and Pete Harding of Buffalo, who was photographed allegedly attempting to set news media equipment on fire and taking credit in a video for joining the Capitol mob, which he said was organized by “Marching Patriots.”