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Iowa Mother And Son Facing Charges For Capitol Riot Granted Pretrial Release

Alleged members of several different right-wing and extremist groups are facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol.
Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images
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Alleged members of several different right-wing and extremist groups are facing charges in connection with the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol.

The mother and son from central Iowa facing charges for their alleged role in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were back in federal court on Thursday. At a remote hearing, Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted pretrial release to Deborah Sandoval of Des Moines and Salvador Sandoval Jr. of Ankeny.

Both had previously been granted release by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, where they had been initially charged before their cases were transferred to D.C.

The Sandovals were arrested last week on multiple charges after acquaintances provided tips and videos to investigators. The Sandovals were granted what a government prosecutor described as “standard conditions” for release, which have been granted to many of the alleged Capitol rioters. The release stipulations include travel restrictions and orders to hand over any passports.

According to FBI Task Force Officer Eric Lopez, someone who knew Deborah Sandoval for more than a decade reported her to law enforcement, saying that Sandoval had shared her plans of traveling to Washington, D.C. for the rally.

“This is history in the making [sic] Saving America,” she allegedly said.

According to Lopez, Sandoval also messaged a video she had allegedly taken inside the Capitol Crypt on Jan. 6. Based on that video, Lopez says he was able to search closed circuit television footage from inside the Crypt and positively identified Sandoval, “wrapped tightly in an American flag," consistent with other photos of herself from that day.

She faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; knowingly impeding or disrupting the orderly conduct of government; and two counts of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

According to court filings, another individual tipped off investigators to Salvador Sandoval Jr.’s actions during the siege and provided a video he filmed of himself on January 6. In a close-up shot apparently taken outside the Capitol building, Sandoval says, “We’re at the State Capitol, or the U.S. Capitol.”

“Got pepper sprayed in the face and mouth…Got out cause I could hear a break, and there's still people inside,” Sandoval added, according to the Statement of Facts signed by Lopez.

Lopez then reviewed CCTV footage and said he positively identified Sandoval not only inside the Capitol but allegedly “engaged in assaulting law enforcement officers."

According to Lopez, the footage shows Sandoval pushing two different officers “clearly identified” as members of the Metropolitan Police Department. Sandoval also allegedly grabbed a shield of a third Metro PD officer but was unable to wrest it from their grasp.

He faces charges of obstructing, impeding or interfering with law enforcement; knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; knowingly impeding or disrupting the orderly conduct of government; and three counts of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Based on a review of Deborah Sandoval’s social media postings, she has been an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and repeatedly parroted unfounded conspiracy theories echoed by Trump and other Republican leaders, including what’s been termed “the Big Lie”: that the 2020 election was plagued by widespread fraud and that Trump won. This is false and has been repeatedly refuted.

“I heard Trump might start his own news network after his 3 terms of presidency [sic] Finally news that’s true!” she posted on November 18.

Some of Sandoval’s postings include anti-immigrant and anti-Black statements. Others are consistent with beliefs pushed by adherents of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, such as the prediction that Democrats will soon be charged with “high treason” in a round of mass arrests.

So far, four Iowans and more than 250 people nationwide have been charged for their alleged role in the deadly attack.

Leo Kelly of Cedar Rapids faces multiple charges after he admitted in media interviews to entering the Capitol and reaching the Senate chamber. He has been granted pretrial release.

Earlier this week, a federal judge ordered that Doug Jensen of Des Moines must remain in custody while he awaits trial due to the “substantial danger” his release would pose to the public. Jensen, a QAnon adherent, led an angry mob in chasing a lone Black police officer near the Senate chamber. Images of Jensen, wearing a QAnon t-shirt and confronting officers, are among the most notorious of violent siege.

Salvador Sandoval is due back in court on March 15. Both mother and son have another hearing scheduling for April 22.