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Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer arrested by FBI after targeting police with ‘bear spray’ in Capitol riot

Schaffer’s bandmates have spoken out against the riots

Annabel Nugent
Tuesday 19 January 2021 10:30 GMT
Moment pro-Trump rioters storm US Capitol captured on TV broadcast

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The guitarist for heavy metal band Iced Earth has been arrested by the FBI following his involvement in the US Capitol riots.

Jon Schaffer, founder and guitarist of the band Iced Earth, turned himself into the FBI on Sunday afternoon (17 January), according to Indianapolis FBI spokesman Chris Bavender.

USA Today reports that Schaffer is accused of using “bear spray” – a pepper-spray irritant – on police officers as he and other rioters stormed the Capitol building on 6 January.

Following the pro-Trump riots, photographs and videos emerged of Schaffer “engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police inside the Capitol building” while holding a container of bear spray.

The 52-year-old had been pictured on an FBI poster seeking the public’s help in identifying people in the mob.

Protestors attack the Capitol
Protestors attack the Capitol (AP)

In the photograph, Schaffer is seen wearing a cap that reads: “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member”. The Oath Keepers is one of the largest self-characterised militia groups in the United States. It is described as an American far-right anti-government militia organisation.

The Oath Keepers are one of three far-right extremist groups that have attracted attention from the FBI, the others are the Proud Boys and Three Percenters.

At a pro-Trump march in November last year, the FBI reported that Schaffer had said: “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.”

Bavender told IndyStar that Schaffer faces six charges, including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building.

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Five people died after a group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on 6 January in an attempt to disrupt Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election win.

Following news of the riots, four of his Iced Earth bandmates released a statement on Instagram condemning the insurrection. 

It reads: “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.

“We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions.”

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