US Senate sergeant-at-arms during Capitol riot dies at 71

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Stenger, who served as the U.S. Senate’s sergeant-at-arms and resigned after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, has died. He was 71.

Stenger died Monday of natural causes, according to two people familiar with the matter. One of the people said he had been diagnosed with cancer and had been ill. The people would not discuss details of his condition publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Stenger had served in the role as the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate since 2018 and had previously worked for the U.S. Secret Service for more than three decades.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was majority leader at the time, requested Stenger’s resignation the day after the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, had vowed that he would fire Stenger when he became Senate majority leader later in the month.

The House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund also resigned after the insurrection.

Stenger and Irving testified to the Senate Rules Committee in February 2021 about security at the Capitol, the response to the attack and the decision in the days leading up to the riot — as members of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the force — to not have the National Guard at the Capitol in order to quell any violence. Stenger was also mentioned extensively in the committee’s report examining the attack.

News of Stenger’s passing on Tuesday fueled baseless conspiracy theories online, with some social media users calling his death “suspicious” and attempting to link it to the surprise Jan. 6 hearing announced just 24 hours earlier by the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Stenger died of natural causes, and there is no evidence he was set to testify at that hearing. Cassidy Hutchinson, a Trump White House aide, testified before the committee.

Other posts misidentified Stenger’s cause of death, falsely claiming he was shot and killed in a street in a targeted attack. Those claims appeared to conflate details from a 2013 report about the unrelated death of a 20-year-old in California with the same name.

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Tulp reported from New York.

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