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Retired firefighter suspected of throwing fire extinguisher at U.S. Capitol Police arrested

A federal U.S. judge on Thursday ordered a retired firefighter in Pennsylvania to be detained pending trial after prosecutors filed charges alleging he hurled a fire extinguisher at police during last week's mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The FBI has arrested more than 100 people over last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol

Donald Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. Police on Thursday announced more charges have been laid following the riot. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

A federal U.S. judge on Thursday ordered a retired firefighter in Pennsylvania to be detained pending trial after prosecutors filed charges alleging he hurled a fire extinguisher at police during last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Judge Henry Perkin for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the alleged actions of Robert Sanford, 55, of Chester, Pa., posed a "danger to the community" as well as to "democracy and our legislators."

According to court documents, Sanford was captured on video hurling what appears to be a fire extinguisher at police.

"The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head," the documents say. "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."

Prosecutors said in court on Thursday that a search warrant executed at Sanford's home uncovered paraphernalia referencing the far-right Proud Boys group. Sanford's lawyer told the judge his client is not a member of any extremist group and has no criminal history.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested more than 100 people over last week's violence at the U.S. Capitol, and is now looking into individuals who could possibly threaten the safety of the Jan. 20 inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, its director said on Thursday.

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The violence, which left five dead, led to the impeachment of Trump on Wednesday by the House of Representatives on a charge of inciting an insurrection. Shortly before the attack, Trump had fired up a crowd of supporters, repeating his baseless claims that he won the election and urging them to march to the Capitol.

Many of the people arrested so far were captured on social media bragging about taking part in the assault, and the FBI has been combing through more than 100,000 videos and photographs.

After the violence was quelled, most of the rioters were allowed to leave the Capitol, meaning law enforcement has had to track them down in the days since.

More charges

One such person was Hunter Ehmke, charged by the Justice Department on Thursday with damaging government property, obstructing an official proceeding and violent entry.

According to court documents, a Capitol Police officer witnessed Ehmke smash a window at the Capitol and rushed at him with his shield to try to stop him.

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The officer "lost grip of the shield and fell" into shards of glass, the documents say. Police managed to detain Ehmke, but the crowd started to become aggressive and threatened police not to take Ehmke away.

"Due to the growing aggression of the large crowd that far outnumbered the officers and the exigent circumstances at the time, officers made the decision to allow Ehmke [to] depart under his own power," according to the government's statement of facts.

Ehmke was due to be in court in the Central District of California at 1 p.m. PST.

'Menacing manner'

Another person who has since been indicted is Douglas Austen Jensen of Iowa, whom federal agents describe in court records as a supporter of the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.

Jensen, according to the charging documents, is the man who was captured on video by the Guardian newspaper taunting a lone Black Capitol Police officer as he led the encroaching crowd up a stairwell.

Jensen approached in a "menacing manner, with the crowd following behind him, forcing the officer to continue to retreat," the documents say.

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., comforts Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., while taking cover as protesters disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral college vote on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images)

Jensen later turned himself in to the Des Moines Police Department. He admitted being the person in the video, saying he "intentionally positioned himself to be among the first people inside the United States Capitol because 'he was wearing his T-shirt and he wanted to have his T-shirt seen on video so that he could get the credit,' " the documents say.

Other charges were filed on Thursday against Kevin Seefried, who was seen carrying a Confederate flag in the Capitol and his son Hunter, as well as Utah-based activist John Sullivan, who allegedly stormed the Capitol clad in a gas mask and ballistic vest and filmed the shooting of a woman by Capitol Police.

U.S. media reported that Sullivan is the founder of Insurgence USA, a group focused on police reform and racial justice. According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, he told police he was an activist and journalist there to film the protests but did not have press credentials.

With files from CBC News

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