Suspect arrested in Bernie Sanders' Vermont office fire

Sen. A suspect was arrested Sunday in connection with a fire at Bernie Sanders' Vermont office that is being investigated as arson, the Justice Department said.

Shand Sokomonian, 35, formerly known as Michael Sokomonian of Northridge, California, was arrested Sunday after allegedly using fire to damage a building in Burlington, Vermont, where Sanders has an office, the DOJ said. said In a press release.

Sogomonian entered the building Friday morning and went to the third floor, where Sanders' Burlington office is located, according to court records. Security video shows the suspect spraying a liquid near the exterior door of the office, according to the DOJ.

Bernie Sanders' office in Burlington, Vt.NBC News

The fire damaged the exterior of the door to Sanders' office and surrounding areas and caused sprinklers in the building to be discharged on multiple floors, the DOJ said. Several of Sanders' employees were occupying the office at the time, but were not physically injured during the incident, officials added. The number of other occupants in the building at the time is unknown, but there were no injuries.

The man pictured above is suspected of setting a fire outside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Burlington office.Burlington Police Department.

When reached for comment Sunday, Sanders' office pointed to his statement as a response to the fire at his Vermont office.

“I am extremely grateful for the swift, professional, coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement in responding to the fire at my Vermont office on Friday,” he said. I am also thankful that many people in the office building were not injured during the fire.

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“I appreciate the support and well wishes that my staff and I have received,” he added. “We are proud to continue serving Vermonters during these challenging times.”

Firefighters were dispatched Friday to the building, which houses Sanders' only congressional office in the state. “They found the fire in the vestibule between the elevator and the entrance door [Sanders’] office,” the fire department said in a news release.

Catherine Van Haste, Sanders' state director, said in a statement Friday that no employees at the building were injured in the incident. Sanders was not in the building at the time.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Sokomonian's initial appearance in front of Doyle has not yet been scheduled. If convicted, he faces five to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. It is unclear whether Sokomonian entered the plea.

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