UNITED STATES NEWS

Montana fire chief who had refused vaccine mandate in Washington state charged in Jan. 6 riot

Jan 10, 2024, 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Montana fire chief who lost a previous job over a coronavirus vaccine mandate was charged Wednesday with spraying a chemical irritant on police officers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Prosecutors say that Frank Dahlquist sprayed “an orange-colored chemical agent” directly into the face of one officer and later sprayed a second officer as supporters of former president Donald Trump attacked the Capitol building, according to court documents.

He was identified in part by matching his distinct facial hair with a photo from the riot to a TV news story about firefighters who were terminated from a fire department near Seattle in April 2022 after the agency required a COVID-19 vaccination, court documents state.

Later that year, Dahlquist was named chief of West Valley Fire Rescue, near Helena, Montana.

No lawyer was listed for Dahlquist in court records, and he did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment. The Associated Press also left messages with the fire department.

Dahlquist was charged with assault, obstruction of law enforcement and other counts. The case was first reported by the online publication Court Watch.

FBI agents confirmed his identity by talking to firefighters who had worked with him in in Issaquah, Washington and identified him from video and photos taken on Jan. 6. They also provided his cellphone number, which was traced to the restricted area of the Capitol that day.

Investigators also found text messages he sent from that number to someone else convicted in the riot, saying “It was a great day!! It got spicy but I love the taste of Freedom.”

____

Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in Washington and Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana contributed to this story.

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Montana fire chief who had refused vaccine mandate in Washington state charged in Jan. 6 riot