Two off-duty Virginia police officers who’ve served in the Army — including one who is still in the National Guard — and a former active duty airman have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Jacob Fracker, 29, and Thomas “T.J.” Robertson, 47, were arrested and charged in federal court Wednesday on one count of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Fracker is a corporal and an infantryman with the Virginia Army National Guard, while Robertson previously served as a military policeman in the Army Reserve. Fracker is the first active service member known to be charged in connection to the Capitol riot.
Both men were photographed inside the Capitol building. In a photo included in the complaint, Fracker appears to be giving his middle finger to the camera in front of a statue of John Stark, an American Revolution veteran who led troops at the Battle of Bennington in New York.
“CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business,” Robertson said on social media, according to the complaint. “The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Fracker expressed little concern about the photo of him in the Capitol: “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around ... Sorry I hate freedom? … Not like I did anything illegal.”
Also on Wednesday, the Air Force confirmed that a North Carolina man arrested on an unlawful entry charge in relation to the Capitol riots was previously an airman. Lance E. Grames, 42, served on active duty from 1997 to 2007. Grames last served as an information systems technician at Fort George Meade in Maryland.
Fracker, the Army Guardsman, was not tapped for duty in D.C., where thousands of Guardsmen from six states are responding to assist with inauguration security, according to Virginia Guard spokesman A.A. Puryear.
“The Virginia National Guard will conduct an investigation into the matter, and we will be able to release more information when that is complete,” Puryear said.
Fracker is a K9 unit officer who joined the Rocky Mount (Va.) Police Department in 2017 and Robertson is his platoon sergeant, according to the Roanoke Times, which covered the first federal court hearing for the two men. Rocky Mount is 25 miles south of Roanoke.
The two men were inside the Capitol building sometime after 2 p.m. on Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress was interrupted by the riot, according to an FBI review. The session resumed after the building was cleared at about 8 p.m.
“At that date and time, the United States Capitol was on lockdown and the defendants’ presence inside was without lawful authority,” the complaint reads.
An attorney for the two men was not listed in court records and they could not be reached for comment.
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed police and occupied the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 riot, which was preceded by a peaceful protest.
The mob mayhem followed a speech by the president in which he repeated unsupported claims that the 2020 election had been rigged against him and urged his supporters to “fight like hell.”
The number of veterans who were among the rioters remains unknown, though some noteworthy individuals have been identified.
A retired Air Force fighter pilot was photographed with zip-tie handcuffs and in combat kit on the Senate floor. A former Navy SEAL chief’s role in the mob is also being questioned after a video was recovered of him boasting of the breach and saying how he hoped “the message was strong enough.”
A former security forces airman was shot and killed inside the Capitol itself. And the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” a shirtless man dressed in shamanistic attire who joined rioters, is a Navy veteran.
More veterans, and potentially service members, could be identified and charged in the coming days and weeks. Department of Justice officials have said they’re still sifting through video footage and witness accounts that have not been made public.
Fracker and Robertson’s cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. and the counterterrorism section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The cases are being investigated by the FBI and the Capitol Police.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.