Jon Schaffer, musician and oath guardian, pleads guilty and will help investigators.
A founding member of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group became the first person guilty to plead guilty to participating in the US Capitol insurrection on Friday, marking a new phase in the investigation into the deadly January 6 attack on the seat of American democracy signaled.
Jon Schaffer, a native of Indiana and founder of the band Iced Earth, pleaded guilty to two crimes that obstructed certification of the 2020 elections and injured a restricted building.
The singer and bassist from Iced Earth left the band in February.
During a hearing in federal court in Washington, DC, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said the 53-year-old Schaffer had no criminal record and volunteered to go to the authorities shortly after the Capitol riot.
Protesters in support of U.S. President Donald Trump gather near the U.S. Capitol Senate Chamber after groups breached the security of the building on Jan. 6, 2021 [File: Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP]The judge said Schaffer was involved in discussions about working with government investigators and agreed to release him on the basis of his own approval. Another hearing is planned for mid-June.
Schaffer is among hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump, who stormed the Capitol to scrap the November election results. Rioters fought with the police, smashed windows and let lawmakers flee on security grounds.
Five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died in the violence.
Prosecutors said Schaffer was wearing a tactical vest and bear spray repellant when he joined the Capitol attack 100 days ago.
A Schaffer attorney at the hearing on Friday agreed that Schaffer entered the Capitol that day as Congress prepared to confirm the electoral college vote in favor of Joe Biden.
In a lawsuit, prosecutors said Schaffer, who was photographed wearing a hat with the Oath Guardian’s insignia on it during the Capitol riot, was “among the rioters who sprayed bear spray on US Capitol police officers.”
The Oath Keepers have been linked to others in Trump’s orbit, including Roger Stone, a longtime supporter and friend of the former president.
Members of the Oath Keepers provide security to Roger Stone at a rally the night before groups attacked the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 5, 2021 [File: Jim Urquhart/Reuters]Prosecutors said Schaffer was “photographed with a bear spray and captured on surveillance tape” and had “verbal arguments with Capitol police officers in the Capitol”.
More than 400 people were arrested and charged with involvement in the violence. The most serious charges were assault, conspiracy and obstruction of Congress or law enforcement.