Two Lebanese-Americans have been arrested and charged for assaulting a police officer who died following the January 6 United States Capitol riot.
32-year-old Julian Elie Khater and 39-year-old George Pierre Tanios, of Pennsylvania and West Virginia respectively, were two of the hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol building in January.
Deceased U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was allegedly one of the several police officers who were sprayed with a toxic chemical during the riot.
While the Justice Department has maintained that the nature of the spray is unknown, court records have noted that Khater had described the chemical that was in the can as “bear sh*t.”
Investigators into Sicknick’s death have dismissed the initial claims that Sicknick had been hit with a fire extinguisher.
“Officers Sicknick, Edwards, and Chapman, who are standing within a few feet of KHATER, all react, one by one, to something striking them in the face,” the FBI has stated in court papers after studying a video of the incident.
“The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces, and rush to find water to wash out their eyes.”
According to the FBI’s account, Khater grabbed the spray can nearly an hour after the riot had started, but Tanios urged him to wait. “Hold on, not yet… it’s still early,” Tanios was quoted as saying.
Later, a police officer’s body camera caught Khater spraying him, Sicknick, and a third, nearby officer.
Consequently, the targeted officers were temporarily blinded by the chemical, which they deemed as strong or stronger than anything they had been exposed to during their police training, according to the court record.
Khater and Tanios, both of whom are of Lebanese origin according to Al-Jadeed, have been charged with nine counts, including several relating to violence and assaulting officers.
However, they were not charged with murder in relation to Sicknick’s death. The court record makes no mention of the officer’s death nor does it link it to the spray.
Before finally identifying them, the FBI had been seeking information on Khater and Tanios for weeks through fliers displaying images of both. Tanios runs a sandwich shop called “Sandwich University” in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Back in January, following the Capitol Riot, a Lebanese woman, who grew up in New Jersey, was also arrested and charged with entering the U.S. Capitol and engaging in disruptive conduct on the grounds.