Both men run takeout restaurant establishments, Khater a superfood franchise and Tanios a sandwich shop. On Facebook, Khater, a Donald Trump supporter, has criticized Capitol security following the riots, touted Trump, and slammed President Joe Biden, calling him an “idiot.” Tanios’s business, which has been controversial, was once called “a staple in the drunken college kid diet.”
On his Instagram page, Tanios refers to himself as “The Sandwich Nazi” and “the “King of the Fat Sandwich. He shared a one-star review of his eatery from May 2019 that read, “If Donald Trump was a restaurant manager, this is who he would be,” and wrote, “To epic not to share…”
Sicknick is the police officer who collapsed and died a short time after the riot. The two men were not charged with murder because authorities have not been able to prove that the bear spray caused Sicknick’s death, which still remains a mystery. The complaint alleges that Khater is the one who sprayed the bear spray, but Tanios is charged with the same offenses because the government alleges he worked in concert with Khater.
Julian Elie Khater is 32-years-old and from Pennsylvania. George Pierre Tanios is 39-years-old and from Morgantown, West Virginia. They will face charges in federal court and were arrested on Sunday, March 15, 2021.
You can read the criminal complaint here.
The men both face nine counts, including assaulting Sicknick and two other officers with a deadly weapon, civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding, court documents say. They face up to 20 years imprisonment. “Tipsters” led authorities to the men.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Conversations Between the Men Near a Bike Rack Were Captured on Video, Authorities Say
Tanios’ social media shows him standing in front of a Trump flag. Authorities included it in the search warrant affidavit.
The affidavit for a search warrant in the case says that, at approximately 1 p.m., “a crowd of violent rioters had assembled on the Lower West Terrace. U.S. Capitol Police had formed a line of bike racks extending from the North end
of the Lower West Terrace to the South end, to act as a barrier against the crowd. Officers were standing watch behind this line and fending off repeated attempts by the rioters to pull on the bike racks, either with their hands or with ropes and straps.”
In reviewing surveillance footage of this incident, authorities said they saw Khater and Tanios “working together to
assault law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical substance by spraying officers directly in the face and eyes. Your affiant further observed these SUBJECTS appeared to time the deployment of chemical substances to coincide with other rioters’ efforts to forcibly remove the bike rack barriers that were preventing the rioters from moving closer to the Capitol building.”
Surveillance footage shows that at 2:09 p.m., Tanios “can be seen walking from the south grassy area toward the Lower West Terrace,” says the affidavit. “Khater can be seen walking behind Tanios. Khater is wearing a beanie with a pom-pom on top, a dark jacket, and has a beard. Tanios is wearing a red hat, black backpack, dark hooded sweatshirt, and has a beard.”
At 2:14 p.m., Tanios and Khater “can be seen engaging each other in animated conversation while they are standing together. During the investigation, law enforcement discovered open source media video of the incident from January 6, 2021.”
On the video, the affidavit alleges, Khater is seen making his way towards Tanios and then states, “Give me that bear shit,” and reaches into the backpack on Tanois’s back. Tanios then states, “Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet… it’s still early,” according to the affidavit.
Khater tells Tanios, “They just f***ing sprayed me” and is “seen holding a white can with a black top that appears to be a can of chemical spray,” the affidavit alleges.
The government claims the two “were working in concert and had a plan to use the toxic spray against law enforcement.”
At 2:20 p.m., Khater walked near a bike rack, directly across from a line of law enforcement officers that included Sicknick and offers Edwards and Chapman. Chapman was wearing a body camera.
“Officer Chapman’s BWC shows that at 2:23 p.m., the rioters begin pulling on a bike rack to Chapman’s left, using ropes and their hands to pull the rack away. Seconds later, Khater is observed with his right arm up high in the air, appearing to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it in the officers’ direction while moving his right arm from side to side,” the affidavit alleges. “Officer Chapman’s BWC confirms that Khater was standing only five to eight feet away from the officers.
2. The Court Documents Accuse Khater of Spraying Bear Spray in the Face of Sicknick & Other Officers, Temporarily Blinding Them
In reviewing the surveillance footage and the officer’s body cam video, authorities noted that “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 officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes.”
At 2:23 p.m., on the surveillance footage, Khater “is again observed raising his arm and continues to spray in the direction of law enforcement officers. MPD Lt. Bagshaw notices these actions and approaches KHATER. At 2:23 p.m., Lt. Bagshaw then sprays Khater, as observed on both surveillance footage and Lt. Bagshaw’s BWC,” the affidavit continues.
Officers Sicknick, Edwards, and Chapman “suffered injuries as a result of being sprayed in the face with an unknown substance by Khater. The officers were temporary blinded by the substance, were temporary disabled from performing their duties and needed medical attention and assistance from fellow officers,” the affidavit alleges.
They were initially treated with water in an effort to wash out the unknown substance from their eyes and on their face. All three officers were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties for at least 20 minutes or longer while they recovered from the spray. Officer Edwards reported lasting injuries underneath her eyes, including scabbing that remained on her face for weeks. Officers Edwards and Chapman also described the spray to their face as a substance as strong as, if not stronger than, any version of pepper spray they had been exposed to during their training as law enforcement officers. Officer Sicknick reported to his supervisors and colleagues that he had been sprayed in the face with a substance.
3. The Men Grew Up Together in New Jersey; Tanios, Who Is Accused of bragging about the Insurrection, Owns a Sandwich Restaurant That Has Been Embroiled in Controversy Before
According to the affidavit, the men grew up together in New Jersey. Khater “had worked in State College, Pa., and Tanios owns a business in Morgantown,” the Washington Post newspaper reported.
The affidavit says that Khater worked “at a food establishment in State College, Pennsylvania.”
The warrant sought “records and evidence that constitute evidence of the subject’s possible affiliation with Oath Keepers or other similar organizations” as well as information about the subject’s presence at the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
A tipster told authorities that Tanios, of New Jersey, had “bragged about going to the insurrection at the Capitol on Facbeook” and owns the “Fat Sandwich restaurant.”
He was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and his business is located in Morgantown, West Virginia.
He wore a shirt with a Sandwich University logo in Capitol surveillance footage and on social media, authorities said, and used the name “kingofthe fatsandwich” on social media.
The affidavit alleges that a person who spoke to law enforcement “was in a legal dispute with Tanios where Tanios reportedly embezzled $435,000 from their former business.”
The affidavit says Tanios is member, president and chief executive officer of a fast-food eatery called Sandwich University.
A search warrant affidavit obtained by Heavy says that authorities sought to search a beige townhouse in Morgantown, West Virginia as well as a fast-food university called Sandwich University. The structure was a “sitdown and takeout restaurant,” it says.
They also sought to search a 2012 white Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to the court documents.
According to a 2019 story by Barstool Sports, Sandwich University faced online accusations that it “didn’t pay some of the college kids who work there and the kids were obviously mad about it. When the kids publicly asked for payment, the sandwich shop twitter account went off, started blocking people, and going in on their Google reviews.”
Just your daily reminder to never support, endorse, or buy from this terrible business, Sandwich U, and its owner, George Tanios. pic.twitter.com/GkZZBDFwcC
— j dizzy (@dolinpls) May 5, 2019
Someone even created a mock Twitter account to trash Tanios, writing, “I’m George Tanios And I run a rat infested Sandwich Shack. My food taste like dog sh** so if I were you I wouldn’t come here to sandwich University.”
Tanios was interviewed by a campus newspaper in West Virginia about his sandwich shop. “Since Morgantown is such a special place with its late night crowd and its drink specials, we get a certain few that come around,” said Tanios to the DA. “The bonus up here is that it’s a window service and it’s outside. We felt like it was a good move for us; We really like the marquee location here on High Street. It really stands out, and we’re hoping we catch people from all angles: leaving the club, going to the club, or strolling around town.”
He told the publication that he started serving at a drive-in restaurant in high school and that owner became a mentor to him.
Tanios’ LLC is listed as not being in compliance by the state.
According to West Virginia Record, a “Wheeling company alleges a Morgantown business owes more than $34,000 for merchandise purchased on a commercial credit account.” The company alleged Tanios and an LLC breached contract. Tanios was the guarantor.
Tanios also ran another restaurant that, according to the Collegian, served “fat” sandwiches since it opened. “The restaurant has held trademarks on sandwiches including ‘Fat Ranch,’ ‘Fat Drunk,’ ‘Fat Blunt,’ ‘Fat Bitch,’ and ‘Fat Bastard’ since 2005,” the newspaper reported. It sued another restaurant owner for using fat in sandwich names.
In a Kickstarter campaign, Tanios wrote,
I am a 1st generation Maronite Lebanese American, born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I wear that badge proudly but please don’t hold that against me, Morgantown! I grew up in and around the Grease Trucks at Rutgers University. My Uncles Abdul & Joe Eid were fresh off the boat when they purchased the Original R U Hungry Grease Truck from my second family, The Marouns. I could write pages about them but that is not for Kickstarter. They are a special bunch and a true inspiration to many. Growing up as a teenager, against my mothers wishes, I would stay up late and hang out at my uncles’ place all the time! It was the best place to hangout late night. Anyone who knows about the ‘Grease Trucks’ back in late 90’s knows what I am talking about. Joe and especially Abdul, have a personality like no other and really took care of the customers. They were my older brothers and taught me, along with several others in the restaurant business, about working with your heart and working hard
He further explained,
I was a college drop out and already owned a small lawn care and landscaping company named, Lawn Cutters. I was doing pretty well for myself. When the Fat Sandwich was rated ‘Best Sandwich in America’ I knew what I needed to do. It was my dream and I felt like I had to do it. The demand was there for the Fat Sandwich and I would be the first place to open outside of New Brunswick. I quickly sold everything I owned and…I moved to State College, PA to open and partner on Are U Hungry. My parents on the other hand were not to pleased about this and thought I was crazy. Within two years, I expanded and opened another location and partnered with a group of friends who owned LionMenus.com and DubVmenus.com in the Morgantown Area. To be honest, I did not really want to move that quickly but people wanted it and the product was bigger then me. Who was I to hold this back from people? That first trip to Morgantown was a epic!… I sold my shares to focus on Morgantown and the newly named Sandwich U.
4. Khater, a former bartender and Trump Supporter, Is Co-Owner of a Superfood Franchise Outlet Who Has Posted Anti-Biden Memes on Facebook
On LinkedIn, Khater describes himself as, “Experienced General Manager looking for new and exciting opportunities.”
He wrote that he was: “Ambitious and results-oriented manager with years of success boosting efficiency and streamlining procedures. Pursuing an opportunity to leverage my experience in leadership, relationship management, and strategy development which have resulted in past increases of new customers monthly in my previous roles.”
The LinkedIn page says he’s general manager and co-owner of a company called Frutta Bowls in State College Pennsylvania. Before that, he worked as a bartender at an Italian restaurant and bar manager and as a financial sales consultant. He was also assistant manager of a liquor store and received a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in business management in 2011. He also attended Rariten Valley Community College, where he had an associate’s degree in business administration, made the dean’s list, and was on the basketball team.
He was quoted in a newspaper story on Frutta Bowls opening, which called it a “smoothie bowl” shop.
“We really just want to bring a healthier option while promoting healthy, active lifestyles,” Khater said to Centre Daily. “Not just to be in the community but be a part of the community; try to give back.”
He told Chapelboro.com that he opened the franchise with his brothers, saying, “Our signature bowl is the Frutta Bowl. It has acai, granola, strawberries, pineapples, kiwis and a bunch of toppings. But my go-to is the Frutella. I love tropical fruit, so I’ll throw some mangos on there. I also like to add cinnamon granola instead of the regular.”
Khater’s Facebook cover photo shows a picture of a seated Trump with famous figures putting their hands on his shoulders, including Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. It also contains a picture of a flag with the words “Pray for Lebanon.”
Another picture takes a swipe at President Joe Biden, showcasing a hat with his name and the phrase “make gas $4.00 a gallon again.”
On Jan. 28, he posted another man’s comment that read, “they have rigged everything, silenced dissent with tech censorship and financial deplatforming, rigged the economy with insider trading, rigged democracy with lobbying and mass immigration, and they’ll tell you with a straight face that racist rednecks are the problem.”
He posted a meme favorably comparing Trump’s economic plans for Black Americans to those of Biden. On Jan. 24, he posted a meme that reads, “Joe Biden is terrified to walk into the Capitol, guarded by 30,000 National Guard, security fences, concrete bollards, and razor wire because IT’S NOT SECURE ENOUGH. Donald Trump walked alone into North Korea.”
Another meme he posted showed Biden and read, “Let’s be honest all the fencing and troops in DC is to stop this idiot from wandering off.” Khater also posted a photo of a “BLM activist” being arrested after the riots, even though authorities say the vast majority of people involved were Trump supporters.
5. Sicknick Was a Trump Supporter & Military Veteran
Brian Sicknick was a Trump-supporting U.S. Capitol Police officer and military veteran who died after the pro-Trump riot on January 6, 2021, at the Capitol building, authorities say.
Initially authorities said Sicknick was injured while “physically engaging” with rioters, the U.S. Capitol Police Department said in a statement. He died at 9:30 p.m. on January 7, the department said. However that account later shifted to the bear spray incident; in addition, accounts that Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher were walked back and not true.
Many police officers were injured that day. Speaking generally and not about the two defendants specifically, the affidavit says,
Once inside, the subjects broke windows and doors, destroyed property, stole property, and assaulted federal police officers. Many of the federal police officers were injured and several were admitted to the hospital. The subjects also confronted and terrorized members of Congress, Congressional staff, and the media. The subjects carried weapons including tire irons, sledgehammers, bear spray, and tasers. They also took police equipment from overrun police including shields and police batons. At least one of the subjects carried a handgun with an extended magazine. These actions by the unknown individuals resulted in the disruption and ultimate delay of the vote Certification.
Heavy found a Twitter account in Sicknick’s name. It indicates that he was a Donald Trump supporter; the cover photo is Trump’s plane. The account has been temporarily restricted for “unusual activity.” On Facebook, his cover photo is of an American flag. The mayor of South River, New Jersey, where the officer was from, told My Central New Jersey, “The family has requested privacy at this time and said Brian did his job.”
You can donate to a fund to help Officer Sicknick’s family here.
Lt. Col. Barbara Brown, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey National Guard, told My Central New Jersey, “Staff Sgt. Sicknick’s commitment to service and protect his community, state and nation will never be forgotten.”
After reports of the officer’s death circulated, Daily Beast reported that his brother told the outlet Sicknick had not died but that “he was on a ventilator with a blood clot on his brain and that it ‘did not look good.’”
Visible posts on Sicknick’s private Facebook page featured American flags and patriotic themes. A 1998 article in the Central New Jersey Home News said that then Airman Brian D. Sicknick was the son of Charles and Gladys Sicknick of South River. At the time he was “a security-force apprentice assigned to the 108th Air Refueling Wing” at McGuire Air Force Base, the outlet reported. He was a 1997 graduate of Middlesex County Vocational Technical High School in East Brunswick.
According to the Daily Beast, Sicknick was also a former Air National Guardsman who served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom. Sicknick was from New Jersey and lived in Springfield, Virginia.