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Two Virginia police officers, man in ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt arrested in Capitol riot

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/13/2021 Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, Hannah Knowles
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Federal authorities announced several new charges Wednesday against people allegedly involved in last week’s riot at the Capitol, including a man said to have worn a pro-Nazi sweatshirt, a five-time Olympic medalist and two police officers from southwest Virginia.

Many of the those charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday face misdemeanors and were released without bond, with prosecutors asking only that they be temporarily barred from Washington.

“Things that are planned to happen in D.C. perhaps this coming week . . . there is obviously a concern there,” Daniel P. Bubar, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, said in court of asking defendants to stay away from the region.

But prosecutors aim to hold a man who is accused of threatening both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).

Among those arrested and released Wednesday were Thomas Robertson, 47, and Jacob Fracker, 29, of Rocky Mount, Va., both officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department. They have been placed on administrative leave.

An arrest affidavit alleges that the FBI had information that Robertson and Fracker were photographed in the Capitol between 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 6 making an obscene statement. Robertson was allegedly quoted on social media saying: “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business . . . The right IN ONE DAY took the . . . U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”

According to the affidavit by U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent Vincent Veloz, a now-deleted Facebook post by Fracker was captioned: “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.”

Robertson told a local news station that they were allowed entry by Capitol Police and did not participate in any violence. Both Robertson and Fracker said in court they were military veterans.

Robert Keith Packer, 56, of Newport News, Va., was identified by an acquaintance and other news outlets; several photographs taken at the Capitol appear to show him wearing a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the infamous Nazi concentration camp. The sweatshirt included the phrase “Work Brings Freedom,” a rough English translation of the German words that hung over one of the gates of the camp, where more than 1.1 million people were killed during the Holocaust.

An arrest warrant charges Packer with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds, misdemeanors punishable by as much as a year in prison. He was released on his own recognizance Wednesday afternoon, with orders to stay out of D.C. and to appear at a virtual hearing next week. He has not yet hired an attorney.

[U.S. vs Robert Keith Packer arrest warrant ]

The Washington Post was unable to reach Packer, and a lawyer who recently represented him did not respond to requests for comment.

Klete Keller, a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, was charged just days after he was spotted on video wearing a Team USA jacket in the Capitol Rotunda. FBI agents used video and other evidence to confirm his presence inside the Capitol, records show.

D.C. police on Wednesday also arrested Nicholas Rodean of Maryland. Rodean, a former employee of Navistar Direct Marketing in Fredrick, was fired after being photographed in the Capitol with his company ID badge around his neck.

Others charged federally were William Pepe, arrested in New York; Andrew Williams, arrested in Florida; Josiah Colt, of Meridian, Idaho, arrested in Idaho; and Kevin Loftus, arrested in Wisconsin, prosecutors said.

Williams is a firefighter in Sanford, Fla.; Pepe works for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Both were suspended without pay.

Williams’s attorney Vincent Citro did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Citro told reporters after Williams’s court appearance Wednesday that “the president and the Capitol Police encouraged despicable behavior. Mr. Williams took part in none of it,” Florida media reported.

CBS2 News in Idaho reported that Colt released a statement apologizing after he was photographed hanging from the Senate gallery balcony, saying, “In the moment I thought I was doing the right thing. I realize now that my actions were inappropriate and I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho.”

Separately, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn filed a weapons charge against a self-described Proud Boys member who apparently did not travel to Washington but allegedly posted threatening statements on the social network Parler on and around Jan. 6 regarding Democratic Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock of Georgia and the Capitol insurrection.

According to an affidavit, Eduard Florea, of Queens, responded to a post about Warnock writing, “Dead men can’t pass . . . laws” and later added, “The time for peace and civility is over. . . . Guns cleaned loaded . . . got a bunch of guys all armed and ready to deploy . . . we are just waiting for the word.”

The spate of additional arrests come as law enforcement officials come a day after the Justice Department and the FBI announced they had created a sedition and conspiracy task force to investigation the Jan. 6 Capitol breach by Trump supporters, during which a woman was fatally shot by police and an officer died after he was injured.

Prosecutors have called the investigation one of the largest ever undertaken by the FBI, which has led to charges against more than 70 people and the identification of 170 suspects to date.

On Wednesday, the government also revealed new details about two men in custody, one accused of threatening to kill both Pelosi and Bowser and the other accused of engaging with a police officer inside the Capitol.

Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr.. was arrested Jan. 7 with a Glock 9mm pistol and Tavor X95 semiautomatic rifle with a telescopic sight and about 2,500 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, including at least 320 rounds of “armor piercing” 5.56mm rounds, according to prosecutors.

Meredith, who prosecutors said had a history of drug use and mental illness, texted a friend vulgar, misogynistic messages in which he threatened to shoot both women, according to court records.

[Read U.S. prosecutors’ detention memo on Meredith and see exhibits here]

On Jan. 6, Meredith purportedly texted “War time,” and “Burn DC to the FKG ground,” prosecutors wrote. When he got to D.C., according to the charging documents, he was too late for the riot but went on to assault a pedestrian.

“A clearly disturbed, deranged, and dangerous individual that fantasizes about committing horrific acts of violence and takes countless steps to carry them out by driving across several states with a trailer stocked with thousands of rounds of ammunition and multiple firearms — including an assault style rifle — should not remain in the community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Baset wrote in a detention filing.

Meredith’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ubong E. Akpan, challenged the basis for Meredith’s detention and argued for his immediate release; a hearing will be held Thursday.

At a news conference Wednesday, Bowser expressed confidence in local authorities’ ability to protect her.

“I will say I get threats a lot. I don’t know the number off the top,” she said. “If MPD thinks it’s actionable, then they will implement whatever measures they think are necessary.”

An indictment unsealed against Douglas A. Jensen, 41, accuses the Des Moines resident of leading a charge of protesters against Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman. In a viral video, Goodman is seen on video trying to hold back dozens of rioters, twice retreating up a flight of stairs. Police experts say he wasn’t fleeing, but luring the mob away from the Senate chambers, where lawmakers were sheltering.

“He wanted to have his T-shirt seen on video so that ‘Q’ could ‘get the credit,’ ” FBI Special Agent Julie Williams wrote of Jensen in an arrest affidavit, a reference to the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

Attorneys were not listed for several defendants charged or could not be immediately reached for comment.

rachel.weiner@washpost.com

Ann E. Marimow and Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.

a sign on the side of a road: Members of the New York National Guard stand guard at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 12. © Robb Hill/For The Washington Post Members of the New York National Guard stand guard at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 12. a person looking at the camera: Robert Keith Packer. © Western Tidewater Regional Jail/Via Reuters Robert Keith Packer.
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