Fact Check-No evidence that former U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms was shot dead

There is no evidence to support online claims that the late Michael Stenger, the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, was shot dead. The false reports appear to come from an account of the killing of a different man with the same name in 2013.

After the news broke that Stenger, who resigned in the wake of the Capitol violence, had died on Jan. 27 at the age of 71 (here) (here), social media users started making unfounded claims about the cause of his passing.

“BREAKING: Michael Stenger was shot dead while crossing the street, sources confirm,” reads a tweet shared more than 2,300 times (here).

“I just found this #Stenger arrived in a friend’s car and was dropped off across the street. As Stenger crossed the street toward his apartment, he was shot and killed. The shooting was partially captured on surveillance video from cameras on a nearby building,” a Twitter user with more than 5,000 followers wrote on June 27 (here).

Users have since shared screenshots of the false report (here) and posts with the same text (here) (here). Some users wrongly attributed the false information to Fox News (here here)

But there is no evidence that Stanger was shot dead.

Two people told the Associated Press that Stenger died of natural causes. One of them said “he had been diagnosed with cancer and had been ill.” (here)

A source told Fox’s Chad Pergram that the former sergeant-of-arms “had been suffering from cancer,” Pergram tweeted on the morning of June 28 (here) (here).

Reuters could not independently verify the cause of Stenger’s death.

Some of the online posts appear to quote from a court document about the death of a 20-year-old with the same name who was fatally shot in Oakland, California in 2013 (here) (here).

Some users also baselessly suggest (here) (here) that the older Stenger’s death was linked to congressional hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Stenger did testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Committee on Rules and Administration on Feb 23, 2021, after the Capitol siege (here) (here).

Snopes ( here ) and Newsweek ( here ) also addressed conspiracy theories that surged after Stenger’s death.


No evidence. Claims that Michael Stenger, Senate sergeant-at-arms during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, was shot dead are unsupported. The allegation appears to come from a 2013 court document about the death of a person with the same name. Sources told other media outlets that Stenger had cancer.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here  .         

Update June 30, 2022: The headline of this article has been updated to specify Michael Stenger was the former, not current, U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms.