AP

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

Jan 11, 2024, 10:08 AM | Updated: 1:37 pm

danger to democracy...

Supporters of US President Donald Trump storm into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

A Montana fire chief who lost a previous job over a coronavirus vaccine mandate has been charged 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 in Washington D.C., according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

He was identified in part by matching his distinctive 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.

He is also accused of throwing a piece of lumber toward a line of police officers, though it fell short of the officers and did not come close to hitting them, prosecutors said. 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.”

He was arrested in Montana and made his first court appearance Wednesday, according to court records.

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