Man arrested for setting fire at Sen. Bernie Sanders' office; motive remains unclear

FILE - Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks to the media as he walks to the House chamber before President Joe Biden's State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol Thursday, March 7, 2024, in Washington. Police in Vermont are seeking a suspect who allegedly started a fire Friday, April 5, 2024, outside the office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The small blaze caused minor damage but no injuries. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A man was charged Sunday with setting a fire outside the Vermont office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, federal prosecutors said.

Shant Soghomonian, 35, who was previously of Northridge, California, entered the building on Friday and went to Sanders’ third-floor office where security video showed him spraying a liquid on the door and setting it afire, officials said.

The building’s interior suffered some damage from the fire and sprinklers that doused the area with water, but no one was hurt. Sanders, an independent, was not in the office at the time.

Soghomonian was arrested Sunday on a charge of using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce, according to a statement from Nikolas Kerest, the U.S. attorney for Vermont.

The motive remained unclear. Soghomonian was detained Sunday and could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately known if had a lawyer, and an initial court appearance had not been set, officials said.

The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by police departments in Burlington, Shelburne and Williston; Vermont State Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and U.S. Capitol Police, officials said.