INDIANAPOLIS – A heavy metal guitarist who was photographed inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection turned himself in to the FBI Sunday afternoon, according to Indianapolis FBI spokeswoman Chris Bavender.
Jon Ryan Schaffer, a native of Indiana and founder of the band Iced Earth, is accused of using “bear spray,” a pepper-based irritant sold by many outdoor retailers, on police officers as rioters forced their way into the Capitol building. A federal statement of facts in his case says Schaffer was seen in photographs and video “engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police insider the Capitol building” and holding a container of bear spray.
He had been featured on an FBI poster seeking the public’s help in identifying protesters. Multiple people contacted by IndyStar identified Schaffer as the man seen in a photograph at the Capitol.
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Bavender said Schaffer faces six charges, including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building, Bavender told IndyStar. He also faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disrupting the orderly conduct of government business, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building, and demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
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The U.S. Department of Justice has posted charges against dozens of people for crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 on its website.
Five people died on Jan. 6 when a mob, fueled by President Donald Trump’s false claims of a “stolen” election, invaded the Capitol in an effort to stop lawmakers from confirming President-elect Joseph Biden’s victory. A police officer was among those killed.
On the FBI poster, the image of Schaffer is labeled Photograph #25. Schaffer is wearing an Oath Keepers ballcap in the photograph. The group characterizes itself as a militia of former law enforcement and military personnel, but is called an extremist anti-government group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Schaffer has previously attended Trump rallies and propagated conspiracy theories. He was once a guest on the far-right radio show of Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and he told a German news station last November that a shadowy criminal enterprise is attempting to run a world government under a Communist agenda. He and other Americans, he said, were prepared for bloodshed to prevent that.
The statement of fact, filed in federal court by an FBI agent whose name is redacted in the document, says:
“Schaffer, who is the front man of the heavy metal band ‘Iced Earth,” has long held far-right extremist views. During an interview in 2017, Schaffer identified himself as an ‘anarchist’ and referred to the federal government as a ‘criminal enterprise.’ During that same interview, Schaffer stated that the 2016 Presidential election was ‘rigged.’
“On November 14, 2020, Schaffer participated in the ‘Million MAGA March’ in Washington, D.C. with other Oath Keepers members. Schaffer was photographed wearing the same blue hooded sweatshirt and clear plastic sunglasses that he wore on January 6, 2021.
“Schaffer was approached by a member of the press during the March (in November), and made numerous statements indicating his intent to join others in fighting the election results – with violence if necessary. Specifically, Schaffer stated the following: My name’s Jon Schaffer, I’m from Indiana. A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they’re making their big move, and it’s not gonna happen. … People need to wake up and snap out of the Matrix, because they’re going down. They made the move, they’re messing with the wrong people here, trust me on that. And we needed it to be open like this. Open fraud. Open theft. Because now we see you, and you’re going down, mark my words. When asked if he expected the protest to involve violence, Schaffer stated ‘if somebody wants to bring violence, I think there’s a lot of us here that are ready for it. We don’t want that, but if they bring it we’re going to respond to that, trust me.’
“Schaffer went on to state: ‘We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me. The American people will not go for that (expletive) once they understand what’s actually happening. So that’s where we’re at. Nobody wants this, but they’re pushing us to a point where we have no choice.’ “
Schaffer and his band appeared in the pages of The Indianapolis Star in 2001 following Schaffer’s rise to fame. Schaffer hasn’t said anything publicly, but four of his Iced Earth bandmates put out a statement on Instagram and Facebook opposing the insurrection.
“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,” they wrote. “We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions.”
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer arrested by FBI after Capitol riot