Man clad with ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt, Olympic swimmer gets charged over Capitol riots
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (US) – A man clad in a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt, a gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer, and a Proud Boys supporter are among those the FBI arrested in connection with the January 6 riots at the US Capitol, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
Robert Keith Packer, a Virginia man identified as having worn the Nazi-linked shirt, has been charged for unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. He was allowed to be released after a virtual hearing in the US District Court in Norfolk.
According to the criminal complaint, Packer was photographed wearing a sweatshirt with the words ‘Camp Auschwitz’, written on it, during the assault on the Capitol. Auschwitz was the Nazi death camp where about 1.1 million people, predominantly Jews, were persecuted in gas chambers and by other means during World War Two.
The sweatshirt also bore a skull and crossbones and the words “Work Brings Freedom” – echoing the German slogan atop the main gate at the original Auschwitz camp.
In a separate case, Eduard Florea was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The FBI said he was in possession of more than 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition, military combat knives, and shotgun rounds.
While Florea have not travelled to the Capitol, prosecutors said he made verbal threats on the conservative social media platform Parler to trigger violence.
Florea was a supporter of the Proud Boys and had filed application to become a member, the government said during his hearing.
Prosecutors said that in one threat, Florea referred on January 6 to newly-elected Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who is Black, writing: “Dead men can’t pass shit laws.”
The judge said the government’s allegations indicated that Florea’s January 6 posts “make clear frankly what reflects a premeditated plan to exact violence against people in New York and people in Washington.”
A criminal complaint alleging that the Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller of civil disorder, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct was declared.
The Justice Department said it had brought at least 70 cases with regard to the riot at the Capitol.
A grand jury in Washington is reviewing possible additional charges.
Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said on Tuesday that while many people in custody were detained on less serious charges, such as unlawful entry, some offenders may face steeper charges.
Among the possible charges some could face include seditious conspiracy or felony murder in connection with the death of a Capitol Police officer.
The Justice Department on Wednesday also charged Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker – two off duty police officers from Rocky Mount, Virginia – after they were photographed inside the Capitol “making an obscene statement in front of a statue of (Revolutionary hero) John Stark.”
In social media posts, the FBI quoted Robertson as 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 f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”
A police spokeswoman in a statement said the two officers had been put on administrative leave pending review of the matter.
Several other suspects tied to the events at the Capitol also made initial appearances in federal courts across the United States on Wednesday.
William Pepe, 31, appeared in a federal court in White Plains, New York after he was identified as one among the protesters, which led to him getting suspended from his job with the Metro-North commuter railroad.
Bail was set at $10,000. Pepe will have to hand over a shotgun and hunting knife he owns. The presiding judge told him the events of Jan. 6 “changed the trajectory of your life.”
Others facing similar charges unveiled on Wednesday included Nicholas Rodean of Maryland, Andrew Williams of Florida, Josiah Colt of Idaho and Kevin Loftus of Wisconsin, the Justice Department said.