A man arrested for setting a fire outside Bernie Sanders’ office stayed at an area hotel for weeks

Apr 8, 2024, 1:47 PM

The man charged with setting a fire outside the Vermont office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders had been staying at an area hotel for nearly two months and was spotted outside Sanders’ office the day before and the day of the fire, according to court paperwork filed by a federal agent.

Shant Michael Soghomonian, 35, who was previously from Northridge, California, entered the building on Friday and went to Sanders’ third-floor office where security video showed him dumping a liquid on the bottom of the door and setting it afire with a lighter, according to the special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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. Seven employees working in the office at the time were unharmed and able to evacuate.

The agent who investigated spotted what appeared to be the remains of a canister of lighter fluid and a red cap on the floor near the office door.

Soghomonian was arrested Sunday on a charge of using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce, according to the U.S. attorney for Vermont. He had been staying at the Inn at Burlington in South Burlington for several weeks, an employee told authorities, according to the affidavit.

When police knocked on the hotel room door, they heard a male saying he was getting dressed, according to an application to search the hotel room and a vehicle with New York plates. Officers then heard what sounded like the man dragging heavy items near the door. Officers got a key and attempted to open the door but it was blocked, according to the court document. They forced the door open and arrested Soghomonian without incident, they said.

Sanders said in a statement that he is “deeply grateful to the swift, professional, coordinated efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement in response to the fire” and thankful that none of the people in the office were hurt.

The motive remained unclear. It was not immediately known if Soghomonian had a lawyer, and an initial court appearance had not been set, officials said. A phone message left with the Chittenden County public defenders’ office was not immediately returned. Soghomonian was being held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans.

The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment 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.

United States News

Associated Press

Biden says each generation has to ‘earn’ freedom, in solemn Memorial Day remarks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden marked Memorial Day with a pledge that the country would continue the work of the nation’s fallen toward creating a more perfect union, “for which they lived, and for which they died for.” Delivering remarks at a solemn remembrance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Biden said each generation must […]

17 minutes ago

Associated Press

Mother pushes 2-year-old girl to safety just before fatal crash at Michigan drag race

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. (AP) — Police say a Michigan woman was killed when an out-of-control vehicle slammed into her during a drag-racing event, but she was able to push her 2-year-old daughter to safety in the seconds before the crash. The crash happened Sunday at Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes in western Oceana County, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Suspect identified in stabbings at a Massachusetts theater and a McDonald’s

BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts individual will be arraigned Tuesday on multiple charges including assault with the intent to murder after six people, including four girls at a movie theater, were stabbed in separate attacks, officials said. Jared Ravizza, 26, of Chilmark, a town on Martha’s Vineyard, was arrested Saturday night after a police […]

3 hours ago

A shopper moves past a display of items in a Costco warehouse Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Sheridan, ...

Associated Press

Here’s what’s open and closed on Memorial Day

The vast majority of retailers will be open on Memorial Day, with many trying to lure customers with big promotional sales.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: World shares are mostly higher after rebound on Wall St

Shares advanced in Europe and Asia ahead of Monday’s Memorial Day holiday in the United States. Oil prices also rose. European shares saw modest gains after the opening while Asian benchmarks gained upward momentum as the day wore on. Germany’s DAX edged 0.1% higher to 18,713.43 and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.2% to […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Lightning strike kills Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle

DENVER (AP) — A lightning strike killed a Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle over the weekend, officials said Sunday. Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding his cattle from a trailer when he was struck and died on the scene despite life-saving efforts, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said. The lightning bolt struck on wide […]

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

A man arrested for setting a fire outside Bernie Sanders’ office stayed at an area hotel for weeks