Rock

Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer Arrested For Participating in Capitol Riot

Jon Schaffer
Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns

Jon Schaffer

Iced Earth guitarist/songwriter Jon Schaffer has been arrested for participating in the Jan. 6 violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of departing President Donald Trump. According to a tweet from the Indianapolis office of the FBI, Schaffer faces "6 charges including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building. Schaffer was allegedly among rioters who sprayed Capitol police with 'bear spray.'"

Schaffer, 52, is now in federal custody after a widely distributed picture of him was posted by authorities in the days following the insurrection that has resulted in five deaths, including two Capitol police officers, one of whom, Brian Sicknick, was beaten with a fire extinguisher by the angry mob. The photo depicted a man identified as Schaffer wearing an Oath Keepers hat while pointing and shouting at an unseen person; Oath Keepers are a right-wing organization made up of former military and police officers that has been described as an extremist, anti-government organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Central-Indiana-based Schaffer turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday. A federal statement of facts notes that Schaffer was "among the rioters who sprayed United States Capitol Police officers with 'bear spray,' a form of capsaicin pepper spray sold by many outdoors retailers, as part of their efforts to push the officers back inside the Capitol and breach the Capitol Building themselves." The statement says that Schaffer was photographed and captured on surveillance video carrying bear spray and "engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol Building."

Among the charges Schaffer is facing are: knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; and knowingly engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds, or attempt or conspires to do so.

The statement also says there is probable cause to believe that Schaffer violated several other statutes, including one that makes it a crime to willfully and knowingly enter or remain on the floor of either House of Congress or in any cloakroom or lobby adjacent to that floor, in the Rayburn Room of the House of Representatives, or in the Marble Room of the Senate, as well as engaging in an act of physical violence in the Grounds or any of the Capitol buildings and parading, demonstrating or picketing in any of the Capitol buildings.

A spokesperson for Iced Earth had no comment on the arrest at press time. Trump, who has one more day in office before president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, was impeached a historic second time by the House last week for his part in inciting the riot and is facing a trial in the Senate that could begin this week.

Schaffer is an avowed Trump supporter who has worn Confederate flag bandanas on stage and who has claimed that COVID-19 is a "psychological warfare campaign on the people more than it is a serious pandemic. He also reportedly attended another protest rally at the U.S. Capitol in November.

While Schaffer has not made any statement about his alleged participation in the assault on the seat of democracy, last week the other members of the group released a statement strongly condemning the incident. "We want to thank those of you who have sent words of support in recent days," they wrote on Sunday (Jan. 10) in a post shared on bassist Luke Appleton and singer Stu Block's Instagram pages. "Some of you have been concerned by our silence, which we understand. We needed some time to properly process the information and find out some facts before we made a statement."

"We absolutely DO NOT condone nor do we support riots or the acts of violence that the rioters were involved in on January 6th at the US Capitol building. We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions," said the note from the group, which was signed by singer Block, bassist Appleton, lead guitarist Jake Dreyer and drummer Brent Smedley; Schaffer's name was not attached to the statement.

According to BBC News, authorities are investigating hundreds of people in connection with the riot, with more than 100 arrests so far as authorities consider a number of significant felony charges tied to sedition and conspiracy by the violent attackers, some of whom brandished Confederate flags and wore shirts with racist or anti-Semitic messages.