Monday, July 22, 2024

Man arrested for setting fire outside Sen. Bernie Sanders’s office

Man arrested for setting fire outside Sen. Bernie Sanders’s office

A man was arrested Sunday for allegedly lighting a fire outside the Burlington, Vt., office of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), authorities said.

Shant Soghomonian, 35, is charged with using fire to damage the building, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Vermont. No injuries were reported, the office said, and Soghomonian’s motive remained unclear as of Sunday afternoon.

Soghomonian entered the building on Friday morning and headed directly to the third floor, where Sanders’s Vermont office is located, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. Security video footage showed Soghomonian spraying a liquid near the door of the office, then lighting the area with a handheld lighter.

A “significant” blaze began, which engulfed the door and hindered multiple staffers from fleeing, according to a statement from the Burlington Police Department.

The fire damaged the door’s exterior, and the hallway, and set off the building’s sprinklers. The sprinkler system “largely extinguished the fire,” the police department said. Sanders was not in the office at the time, according to the police department.

Soghomonian, previously of the Northridge neighborhood in California, could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A lawyer “has not yet been identified” for him, the U.S. attorney’s office said in its statement.

Multiple agencies investigated Friday’s incident, according to the statement, including the Burlington Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Vermont State Police and U.S. Capitol Police.

Sanders’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

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