Two off-duty police officers from Virginia who were photographed in front of a statue inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were arrested and later rel
Two off-duty police officers from Virginia who were photographed in front of a statue inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were arrested and later released on $15,000 bonds Wednesday.
Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson, both of whom work for the Rocky Mount Police Department, were each charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Both men, who are military veterans, were arrested in Virginia on Tuesday. Later that afternoon, they appeared via Zoom in a federal court hearing in Roanoke. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou ordered that Fracker and Robertson be released on $15,000 unsecured bonds, The Roanoke Times reported.
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In a statement obtained by the Times on Tuesday evening, Fracker defended his actions at the Capitol as an “expression of grief against what very many Americans would consider tyranny.”
“My entire adult life has been dedicated to protecting my fellow Americans. I’ve never once cared about skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation or anything. Americans are Americans, we bleed the same,” he wrote. “I have fought against terrorists who threatened our way of life. I’ve put away drug dealers who would have seen to our children getting addicted to their product just so they could make a buck.”
On the same day a group of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Fracker and Robertson were photographed inside the building in front of a statue of John Stark, according to prosecutors. Fracker is seen making an obscene gesture as Robertson points to Fracker while holding a wooden rod he later identified as an American flag pole.
Stark served in the British Army during the French and Indian war, as well as the Continental Army in the American Revolution. A New Hampshire native, he coined the state’s motto: “Live free or die.”
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“CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business,” Robertson, 47, later wrote in a post on social media, according to the federal criminal complaint. “The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”
He also allegedly stated that he was “proud” of the photo on an Instagram post that was shared to Facebook, because he was “willing to put skin in the game.”
On Facebook, Fracker, 29, posted a comment that read, “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around… Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y’all do what you feel you need to,” according to the complaint against him. The post has since been deleted.
Both cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia. The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the U.S. Capitol Police are handling the investigation.
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According to his statement, Fracker said he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan. After being honorably discharged at the rank of corporal, he now serves in the Virginia Army National Guard, and his “love for my fellow countrymen has no bounds, to go as far as me willingly giving my life for any other person in this country.”
In 2011, SWVA Today, a local newspaper, published a report explaining how Robertson had attended ranger school and was trained as a sniper as part of his military experience.
The terms of their release agreement Tuesday forbade both men from possessing firearms during the case and require both to stay away from any public assembly, demonstration or protest until the case is resolved, The Roanoke Times reported. The judge declined the prosecution’s request to put GPS tracking on the men, citing the fact that both are police officers and military veterans.
In interviews with local media outlets, Robertson has maintained that he and Fracker did not break the law and that the selfie was taken after rioters were removed from the building. He claims they were escorted in by U.S. Capitol Police officers, handed water bottles and asked to stay in a roped-off area.
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Fracker and Robertson have been on administrative leave since Sunday, when the Rocky Mount Police Department first notified federal authorities about the officer’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Town of Rocky Mount said in its own statement. Fracker is a K-9 unit officer who has worked for the department since 2017. Robertson is his platoon sergeant.