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Mother and son are latest Iowans convicted for joining Capitol insurrection

In this image from U.S. Capitol Police security video, police and rioters are seen in the Rotunda of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP)
U.S. Capitol Police
In this image from U.S. Capitol Police security video, police and rioters are seen in the Rotunda of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Salvador Sandoval was convicted on 12 federal charges one day after his mother, Deborah Sandoval, pleaded guilty to also illegally entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

A mother and son from the Des Moines area are the sixth and seventh Iowans convicted on federal charges for taking part in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Salvador Sandoval of Ankeny was convicted Thursday by a federal judge on 12 charges. The verdict came after Deborah Sandoval of Des Moines pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally entering the Capitol building.

With their convictions, seven of the eight Iowans charged for involvement in the insurrection have been found guilty either by trial or through plea agreements.

Federal prosecutors said the Sandovals went to Washington, D.C., under the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. After attending President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House, they joined the crowd that went on to the Capitol hoping to stop Congress from certifying the election results.

According to prosecutors, Salvador Sandoval forced his way into the Capitol rotunda with other rioters. In the 15 minutes he was inside, he pushed Metropolitan Police Officers who were trying to clear the building and twice tried to grab riot shields away from them.

In a bench trial held in D.C. District Court, Judge Thomas Hogan found Sandoval guilty on all charges. Six of the 12 counts are felonies, including obstructing a proceeding of Congress, assaulting or impeding an officer and disorderly conduct.

Deborah Sandoval admitted to going inside the Capitol through doors that had been forced open by other rioters. At one point, video captured her yelling, “get her ass out here,” which Hogan said he presumed was a reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

She faces a maximum of up to one year in prison and must pay a $500 fine to offset the cost of damage done to the Capitol building. Deborah Sandoval was released on bond until sentencing in April.

Rioters crowd in a corridor of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
FBI indictment document
An image included in a federal indictment identified Salvador Sandoval in this crowded U.S. Capitol corridor during the insurrection on January 6, 2021.

Salvador Sandoval’s defense attorneys asked that he also be released until sentencing, but Hogan instead ordered that Sandoval be detained after prosecutors showed that he purchased an AR-15 rifle less than one week after returning to Iowa from the insurrection. Prosecutors said Sandoval bought the weapon after another Iowan, Doug Jensen, was arrested for participating in the Capitol riot.

Sandoval not only bought an assault rifle, prosecutors said, he also possessed eight clips filled with ammunition and had packed a bag with food, survival supplies and an untraceable cell phone.

Hogan said he had considered releasing Sandoval, but said learning of the AR-15 was a “tipping point.”

“I can’t see how any other conclusion can be made that the AR-15 with the clips loaded and the ‘go bag’ and your burner phone all went to a plan to escape and, if necessary, protect yourself and kill others,” Hogan said. “I just don’t see how I can make a finding that you’re not likely to pose a danger.”

Sandoval will be incarcerated until he is sentenced in April. A prosecutor said his charges add up to the possibility of nearly 50 years in federal prison.

Grant Gerlock is a reporter covering Des Moines and central Iowa