Public Safety

Tip led to FBI arrests of Iowa mother, son in Capitol attack

FBI identified woman and her adult son after a tip from a longtime family acquaintance

Deborah Sandoval and her son Salvador Sandoval Jr. were arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capit
Deborah Sandoval and her son Salvador Sandoval Jr. were arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol after a longtime acquaintance tipped off the FBI to their alleged involvement. (Polk County Jail via AP)

IOWA CITY — The FBI has identified an Iowa woman and her adult son as participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol after receiving a tip from a longtime family acquaintance, according to a court document unsealed Tuesday.

Videos that Deborah Sandoval and Salvador Sandoval Jr. posted on social media and surveillance footage from the Capitol also confirmed they were part of the mob that illegally entered the building, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.

Salvador Sandoval, 23, is also seen on surveillance video assaulting members of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, pushing two and trying to pry a shield away from a third, according to the document.

The FBI announced last week that Deborah Sandoval, 54, and her son had been arrested on charges stemming from the attack. But until Tuesday afternoon, a document spelling out the allegations against them was filed under seal and unavailable for review.

FBI agent Eric Lopez wrote that he launched an investigation after receiving a tip about the Sandovals’ involvement from a person who has known the family for more than 10 years and routinely communicates with Deborah Sandoval on social media.

Sandoval, a die-hard supporter of Donald Trump, told the witness that she was traveling to Washington, D.C. from Jan. 5-7 and would be part of “history in the making” and “Saving America.” She later sent photos of herself outside the Capitol, and a video from inside the building surrounded by rioters wearing Trump flags, hats, helmets and gas masks, Lopez wrote.

Lopez said he confirmed Deborah Sandoval’s participation by reviewing closed circuit television footage from the Capitol that showed her walking through the building with her phone, wearing an American flag and a hooded jacket.

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A second tipster provided the FBI video that Salvador Sandoval had posted on social media in which he said he had just left the Capitol after he was shot in the face and mouth with pepper spray, Lopez wrote. Sandoval said on the video that he “got out because I could hear a break, and there’s still people inside.” Surveillance video reviewed by Lopez showed Sandoval assaulting police officers while in a group in the building.

Both are charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Deborah Sandoval is also charged with disrupting the orderly conduct of government, while her son is charged with obstructing law enforcement.

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