Man Arrested After Fire Set Outside Bernie Sanders’s Vermont Office


The authorities in Vermont arrested a man they said used an accelerant and a lighter to start a fire on Friday outside of Senator Bernie Sanders’s office in Burlington.

The man, Shant Soghomonian (also known as Michael Soghomonian), 35, previously of Northridge, Calif., was arrested on Sunday on a charge of using fire to damage the building at One Church Street in Burlington, Vt., the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont said in a statement on Sunday.

Prosecutors and the police did not identify a possible motive for the fire. The office said that a lawyer for Mr. Soghomonian had not yet been identified. Officials did not provide a current address for Mr. Soghomonian.

On Friday morning, according to prosecutors and the Burlington Police Department, Mr. Soghomonian walked into the vestibule of the senator’s office, where a security camera captured him as he sprayed an “apparent accelerant” near the outer door of the office.

Mr. Soghomonian then used a lighter and “a blaze quickly began” as he fled via a staircase, prosecutors said. The blaze set off the building’s sprinklers on multiple floors.

The sprinklers extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived around 10:45 a.m., the police said.

The senator’s office was occupied at the time by multiple employees. It was not known how many other people were in the building at the time, but no injuries were reported, the authorities said.

Senator Sanders, an independent from Vermont, was not in his office at the time of the fire, his office said in a statement on Friday.

“A special thank you to Burlington Police Department detectives, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the integral role they played in bringing swift resolution to this investigation,” the mayor of Burlington, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, said in a statement.

An initial court appearance has not been scheduled for Mr. Soghomonian.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors said.



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