Khater and Tanios are charged with nine counts, including assaulting Sicknick and two other police officers, identified as Capitol Police Officer C. Edwards and Metropolitan Police Department Officer D. Chapman, with a dangerous weapon. They are also charged with civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Department of Justice issued a statement that gave more details on the charges:
“Khater and Tanios are each charged with one count of conspiracy to injure an officer; three counts of assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon; one count of civil disorder; one count of obstructing or impeding an official proceeding; one count of physical violence on restricted grounds, while carrying dangerous weapon and resulting in significant bodily injury; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct, act of physical violence on Capitol grounds.
“According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Khater and Tanios were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and were observed in video footage working together to assault law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical substance by spraying officers directly in the face and eyes. During the investigation, it is alleged that law enforcement discovered video that depicted Khater asking Tanios to “give me that bear s*it.” Tanios replied, “Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… it’s still early.”
“Khater then retrieved a canister from Tanios’ backpack and walked through the crowd to within a few steps of the police perimeter. The video shows Khater with his right arm up high in the air, appearing to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it at the officers’ direction while moving his right arm from side to side. The complaint affidavit states that Officers Sicknick, Edwards, and Chapman, who were all standing within a few feet of Khater, each reacted to being sprayed in the face. The officers retreated, bringing their hands to their faces and rushing to find water to wash out their eyes.”
Here is a copy of the criminal complaint:
The criminal complaint said the two were arrested after tipsters contacted the FBI after allegedly identifying Khater and Tanios from wanted images released by the bureau from surveillance video and officers’ body cameras.
Tanios was arrested at his home in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he operated the Sandwich University restaurant. Khater was arrested upon arriving on a flight at Newark’s Liberty International Airport.
Both men made their first court appearances Monday afternoon. Politico reported:
Khater made his initial appearance remotely Monday before a New Jersey-based magistrate, joined remotely by attorney Steven Altman, who Khater retained for his case. Altman urged the magistrate, Leda Wettre, to use her authority to press the government to ensure that Khater was transferred expeditiously to Washington D.C., a nod to the unusual fate that has befallen a few Capitol-related detainees who have sat in limbo for weeks.
Khater said little during the appearance but acknowledged the charges against him as well as the fact that a guilty verdict would likely result in his deportation, since he's not a U.S. citizen.
Tanios appeared briefly by video from a West Virginia jail at a hearing before a federal magistrate judge in Clarksburg, W. Va. The judge in that case set a bail hearing for Tanios Tuesday morning.
The Philadelphia Inquirer added background on the two suspects.
Khater and Tanios grew up together in New Brunswick, N.J., the children of Lebanese immigrants before both left to manage fast-food franchises in other states. After graduating from Farleigh Dickinson University in 2011 with a degree in business administration, Khater spent years working in the restaurant and hospitality industry in the state before moving to Pennsylvania in 2018.
There, according to his LinkedIn profile, Khater worked in State College as the manager and co-owner of a Frutta Bowls health food franchise, which abruptly closed in June. Agents said it was one of his former employees there who identified him from photos circulated by the FBI.
Tanios, meanwhile, had moved to West Virginia several years ago and opened a franchise of Sandwich University, a local chain that exported the New Jersey college town speciality of “fat sandwiches” — loaded with greasy foods like chicken fingers, fries, and mozzarella sticks — to students ... He described himself on LinkedIn as a “sandwich Nazi” and wore a sweatshirt with the company’s logo to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
His restaurant’s now deactivated Twitter account routinely retweeted Trump and questioned the purpose of wearing masks during the pandemic. … He was turned in by several tipsters, including a former business partner who has accused him in a legal dispute of embezzling $435,000, according to court filings.
Here is Khater’s LinkedIn profile.
The question of whether the two will be held criminally responsible for Sicknick’s death remains open. From a legal standpoint, the main complication is that the cause of Sicknick’s death has not been established as a homicide. The charging papers allege that evidence of an assault is clear on the video.
The events surrounding Sicknick’s death have been difficult to unravel.
Initially, Capitol Police said that Sicknick, a 13-year Capitol Police veteran and former member of the New Jersey Air National Guard, “was injured while physically engaging with protesters” and collapsed after he had returned to his office following the Jan. 6 riot. He died at a local hospital the next day at 9:30 p.m.
The Post, quoting people familiar with the matter, reported that investigators later determined that Sicknick “did not die of blunt force trauma.” After more than two months, no autopsy or toxicology report has been made public, the newspaper reported.
Authorities say Sicknick was among five people who died as a result of the riot that followed a rally at the Ellipse in which Donald Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying the Electoral College vote count. The other four who died were civilians, including a female protester who was shot by an officer inside the Capitol building.
At least 139 police officers were reportedly assaulted by the angry mob of Trump supporters.
In a statement Monday, US Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman thanked investigators and prosecutors for their work to identify, arrest, and prosecute the two individuals.
“Those who perpetrated these heinous crimes must be held accountable, and — let me be clear — these unlawful actions are not and will not be tolerated by this Department," Pittman said.
The Justice Department said the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the Metropolitan Police Department are continuing to investigate the case.
Here are some comments from former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner:
The FBI is looking for individuals who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.