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Police arrest man for allegedly setting fire to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office door in Burlington

A street with people walking on it and a tall church in the background.
Charles Krupa
Associated Press
A 35-year-old man accused of setting fire to the door of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Burlington office was arrested this weekend.

A 35-year-old man accused of setting fire to the door of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Burlington office was arrested this weekend.

Shant Soghomonian (also known as Michael Soghomonian) faces a federal charge of using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont said in a press release Sunday. Soghomonian used to live in Northridge, California, the press release said. Law enforcement officials did not say on Sunday where he’s currently living.

According to federal prosecutors, Soghomonian entered the building at One Church Street on Friday morning and went to the third floor, where Sanders’ office is located. Federal prosecutors say security video shows Soghomonian allegedly spraying a liquid on the door and then lighting the door on fire.

There were multiple people in Sanders' office when the fire started, though no one was injured. The blaze damaged the outside of the office door and surrounding area and the buildings’ sprinklers went off on multiple floors, federal prosecutors said.

“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,” said Sanders in a written statement on Sunday. “I appreciate the outpouring of support and well-wishes for me and my staff. We are proud to be able to continue to serve Vermonters during these challenging times.”

Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, in a written statement on Sunday, also thanked law enforcement agencies for their work.

“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,” Mulvaney-Stanak said in the statement. "My office has offered the support of the Burlington Community Justice Center to Senator Sanders's staff, and we will continue to be in close communication as their office navigates the impacts of this incident."

An initial court appearance for Soghomonian hasn't been scheduled, according to federal prosecutors. Soghomonian faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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