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HomeNewsOfficials Arrest Suspect in Arson at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Office

Officials Arrest Suspect in Arson at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Office

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Senator Bernie Sanders
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One 35-year-old person is facing federal charges for allegedly setting fire to Senator Bernie Sanders’ Burlington office. Shant Soghomonian, who also goes by the name Michael Soghomonian, was arrested around 4 a.m. Sunday at a La Quinta Inn in South Burlington, two days after the fire actually happened.

According to an unsealed search warrant affidavit filed in the case, staff recognized him from surveillance images police released as a guest who had been staying at the hotel for several weeks. As heard from the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, he has been charged with using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce.

Soghomonian was taken into custody after he allegedly tried to block his hotel room door with “heavy items,” prompting police to force open the door, according to the search warrant affidavit. A motive for the incident remains under investigation, according to police.

Security footage showed Soghomonian allegedly spraying a liquid near the outer door of Sanders’ third-floor office at One Church Street in downtown Burlington before setting it ablaze with a handheld lighter.

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Authorities stated, “A significant fire engulfed the door and part of the vestibule, impeding the egress of staff members who were working in the office and endangering their lives,” according to a statement from the Burlington Police Department. “A blaze quickly began while Soghomonian departed via a staircase.” they continued.

The incident, which put the lives of several staff members inside in terrible danger, briefly closed up their exit. Fortunately for Sanders, he was not present during all the commotion.

Officials said the Burlington Fire Department crews quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the flames. The Police also stated that “along with fire damage to Senator Sanders’s door and vestibule, water from the sprinkler systems caused significant damage to that space and other areas of the building.”

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Soghomonian’s initial court appearance has not been set yet, but he previously lived in Northridge, California. If found guilty, he could face a sentence of five to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Senator Sanders issued a statement on Sunday in which he expressed his gratitude. He stated, “I am deeply grateful to the swift, professional, coordinated efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement in response to the fire at my Vermont office on Friday,” he said. “I am also thankful that none of the many people who were in the office building at the time of the fire were injured.” Sanders also appreciated those who offered support and reassured everyone that his office would stay dedicated to serving Vermonters despite these challenges.

ALSO READ: FBI Searches South Carolina Home Following Cross-Burning Reports

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Early this January, it was reported that at least three members of Congress had reported anonymous calls, called “swatting” over the previous week, including Representative Brandon Williams of New York, Senator Rick Scott of Florida, and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, all Republicans. Some believe it could all be linked together.

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