Ferrum, VA – Federal prosecutors said a former Rocky Mount police officer who was arrested for participating in the Capitol riot violated the terms of his release when weapons, ammunition, and a pipe bomb were found at his home.
Now-former Rocky Mount Police Department (RMPD) Sergeant Thomas “T.J.” Robertson, 47, and Officer Jacob Fracker, 29, were arrested Jan. 13 on charges of knowingly engaging in conduct that disrupts government business, knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so, and engaging in disruptive conduct at the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress, according to The Roanoke Times.
Sgt. Robertson and Officer Fracker, both of whom are military veterans, were charged after they shared a photo of themselves posing in front of the John Stark statue inside the U.S. Capitol, according to The Roanoke Times.
The image showed Officer Fracker making an obscene gesture while Sgt. Robertson stood next to him holding onto the wooden pole of an American flag.
Sgt. Robertson insisted he did nothing wrong and said he and Officer Fracker had been ushered into the Capitol building by police, WSET reported.
He further claimed he didn’t witness any violence inside the area that he said police had allowed them access to, according to WAVY.
But prosecutors said Sgt. Robertson bragged to friends about witnessing U.S. senators “cowering on the floor with genuine fear on their faces is the most American thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” WSET reported.
Both officers were initially placed on paid leave while the situation was being investigated, and then were later suspended with pay, WSET reported.
The officers refused to resign when the department asked them to do so and both were fired on Jan. 26.
A federal magistrate had granted Robertson pretrial release on the condition that he not break the law and refrain from possessing firearms, destructive devices, or other weapons, WUSA reported.
But when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted search of Robertson’s property four days after he was released, they found eight firearms and a large stash of ammunition in his home.
On Jan. 19, the magistrate again ordered Robertson not to possess firearms, WUSA reported.
And once again, he ignored the terms of his release, according to the DOJ.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation determined that Robertson then bought more guns and ammunition online and had them shipped to a gun store in nearby Roanoke, WUSA reported.
It’s against federal law for anyone with a felony indictment to ship, transport, or receive firearms or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce.
Investigators got warrants for Robertson’s Yahoo and Venmo accounts and found multiple messages and transactions they said were connected to the illegal sales of firearms.
The FBI accused Robertson of trying to hide one purchase via Venmo by labeling it “Wedding Photos,” WUSA reported.
The investigation found Robertson had purchased 34 firearms since he was ordered not to possess any.
The purchases included multiple M1 carbines and hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing ammunition, WUSA reported.
FBI investigators executed a search warrant at Robertson’s home on Tuesday and found a loaded M4 rifle, a partially-built pipe bomb, and a box that was labeled “ALERRT kit, preps and booby trap sims.”
#CapitolRiot: The DOJ also says a search warrant of Thomas Robertson's home turned up a partially assembled pipe bomb and a box labeled "booby trap." At the moment he remains free on pretrial release. @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/R1oqRsxHR5
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) July 2, 2021
When he was interviewed by FBI agents after the search on June 29, Robertson volunteered that “if the search warrant related to him buying guns, he had bought them online and hadn’t even picked them up yet,” WUSA reported.
FBI agents next interviewed the gun shop owner who confirmed that he had 34 firearms waiting to be picked up by Robertson, who told him he “cannot have guns because of his current bond conditions.”
The store owner told the FBI that Robertson had been in his shop handling guns a week earlier, WUSA reported.
DOJ told the court in its filing that Robertson’s “extensive and flagrant violation of the terms of his release order” plus his “calls for future violence” demonstrated that no combination of release conditions could keep the public safe from him.
Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper to rescind Robertson’s bail and keep him in custody, WUSA reported.
Cooper did not immediately rule on the DOJ’s motion and Robertson remained free going into the holiday weekend.
Robertson is currently scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 3, WUSA reported.