A federal judge on Friday (March 19) refused to release jailed ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer as he awaits trial in Washington in connection with the siege on the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui ordered the 53-year-old musician, who resides in in Edinburgh, Indiana, held without bail on six federal criminal charges related to his alleged involvement with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Schaffer, who is being held in a Washington D.C. jail, appeared before Faruqui for a video teleconference earlier today.
According to WUSA9, the judge cited Schaffer's comments to a reporter during a MAGA rally in November that "if somebody wants to bring violence, I think there's a lot of us here that are ready for it."
Schaffer's attorney, Marc Victor, argued his client's comments were taken out of context, and that he knows he used bad judgment on January 6 and wishes he had a "do-over." He pointed out that the guitarist has no prior record and insisted that he isn't a danger to the community. He also argued the musician was not responsible for the insurrection and was encouraged by former president Donald Trump.
"People have the right to believe the highest elected official," Victor said, according to Indiana Public Media. "My client is not responsible for what happened on January 6."
Schaffer's attorney also claimed his client was in the Capitol for just 60 seconds. He admitted Schaffer "used bad judgment that day" by bringing "bear spray" into the Capitol, but insisted he was only intending to use it for protection.
The judge ruled against Schaffer, however, finding that while he wasn't a flight risk, he does pose a danger to the community. He said Schaffer's actions are reinforced by "long-held beliefs and added these were not isolated events.
Schaffer, who can appeal Faruqui's decision, will appear in a status hearing next month.
Court documents show Schaffer was originally scheduled to appear before the court on Thursday, but was unable to due to processing at a D.C. jail.
Less than two weeks ago, Schaffer's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against the guitarist for his involvement in the insurrection. Court documents filed on March 9 requested that he be released immediately under the claim that the government has violated the Speedy Trial Act, which establishes maximum time periods for different stages of a federal criminal prosecution. Since the Speedy Trial Act required the government to file an information or an indictment within 30 days of Schaffer's arrest, the "complaint must be dismissed," Schaffer's attorneys wrote.
Schaffer waived his preliminary hearing as well as his rights to an identity hearing and production of a warrant in late January in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, court documents state. He was then transported by a United States marshal to Washington, D.C. where government lawyers and Schaffer's legal team have mutually agreed to handle all proceedings.
Two months ago, government lawyers asked the judge to not offer Schaffer a bond when he goes in front of U.S. magistrate.
Last month, a man resembling Schaffer was seen in security footage from the U.S. Capitol riot that the House impeachment managers obtained and submitted as evidence for former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. The clip in question, which was released by CNN on February 15, shows rioters charging through a breached entrance and engaging and pushing officers. Schaffer can be seen near the front of the mob, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a tactical vest and black leather fingerless tactical gloves, and pointing his finger while yelling at the officers.
Schaffer was photographed wearing an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" cap during the insurrection. The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an association of former law enforcement and military personnel dedicated to "support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." But the Anti-Defamation League describes it as "a large but loosely organized collection of right-wing anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."
Schaffer was held in the Marion County Jail for nearly two months after surrendering to police on January 17. He made his first court appearance the following day.
Just hours after the insurrection, ICED EARTH fans recognized Schaffer in a photo released by federal investigators.
Schaffer is believed to be one of at least 400 people who are being investigated by FBI officials over their roles in the insurrection.
More than 250 criminal cases have been filed so far. Charges include unauthorized access, theft, damage to government property and assault on law enforcement officers.