Suspect in Bernie Sanders office fire arrested

By Jen Krausz on
 April 9, 2024

A man suspected of setting fire to the door of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Vermont office when staffers were working inside has been arrested and charged with several felonies, according to Burlington police. 

Shant Soghomonian, 35, was arrested at a La Quinta Inn in Burlington early Sunday morning after he was recognized from surveillance photos.

He allegedly poured lighter fluid on Sanders' office door around 10:45 a.m. on Friday morning and lit the door on fire as seven of Sanders' staffers were working inside.

The workers were briefly trapped, but firefighters quickly extinguished the flames before anyone could be hurt.

The damage

There was significant damage to the building because of the fire, firefighters' efforts, and a sprinkler system in the building.

The office was on the third floor of the building, and Soghomonian was seen on surveillance video entering the building and going up to the third floor.

There is still no known motive for setting the fire, according to police.

Sanders not present

Sanders was not in the office when the fire occurred.

Because the building was also used in interstate commerce, police charged Soghomonian with using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce.

The penalty for these charges is 5 to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

It was not known whether Soghomonian had legal counsel. A hearing on the charges has not yet been scheduled, either.

"Deeply grateful"

"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," Sanders said in a statement. "I am also thankful that none of the many people who were in the office building at the time of the fire were injured."

"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," he went on.

Sanders is an independent senator who caucuses with Democrats. He has been in the Senate for 18 years.

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