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Oath Keeper Becomes First Capitol Insurrectionist to Rat Out Fellow Rioters

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 4/16/2021 Pilar Melendez
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Jon Cherry © Provided by The Daily Beast Jon Cherry

A heavy metal guitarist and self-described “lifetime member” of the Oath Keepers has become the first Jan. 6 insurrectionist to plead guilty and cooperate with the feds, prosecutors revealed Friday.

Jon Ryan Schaffer, a 53-year-old from Indiana, pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon during a Friday hearing.

The plea, which requires his cooperation with federal prosecutors in their ongoing investigation, marks the first time a rioter has copped to his crimes on Jan. 6. It’s been exactly 100 days since thousands of MAGA rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent Joe Biden}s electoral certification.

The guilty plea comes after Schaffer was charged on Friday by criminal information, waiving his right to an indictment. The guitarist and lead singer for the heavy metal band Iced Earth was initially charged in January with six crimes for participating in the Jan. 6 siege while wearing a hat that proclaimed him to be an “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.”

During the siege, Schaffer allegedly sprayed multiple U.S. Capitol police officers with bear spray as they breached the government building. A criminal complaint also states Schaffer verbally assaulted officers inside the building.

Long before his decision to storm the Capitol alongside his paramilitary members, prosecutors state Schaffer 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,’” the complaint states.

After the election, Schaffer attended several Trump rallies protesting the election results, including one March event where he told reports, “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.”

So far, prosecutors have charged over a dozen Oath Keepers with conspiracy, including Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old former Army vet accused of recruiting members to “fight hand to hand” to take over the Capitol. Prosecutors describe the Oath Keepers as “an organization that characterizes itself as a militia of former law enforcement and military personnel and has often, as a group, urged President Trump to declare Martial Law in order to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College Results.”

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