Indiana Oath Keepers have issued a statement claiming ICED EARTH guitarist Jon Schaffer is not a member of their organization.
The 52-year-old musician, who resides in in Edinburgh, Indiana, was photographed wearing an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" cap during the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He is facing six federal criminal charges after he was accused of spraying a police officer with a pepper-based bear repellant.
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."
The Indiana Oath Keepers share the same logo and mission statement as the national Oath Keepers organization, but it is unclear to what extent the two groups are affiliated.
In a statement posted on the Indiana Oath Keepers web site, the group wrote: "The individual arrested in Columbus, Indiana and was wearing an Oath Keepers (not Indiana Oath Keepers) hat in the US Capitol building on January 6th is NOT a member of Indiana Oath Keepers." The organization added that it "does not and has never sponsored, planned or funded any activities that involve riots, violence or unlawful actions. No IOK members were sent to Washington DC on January 6th nor did IOK leadership ask for volunteers to travel to Washington DC."
Indiana Public Media reported last Friday that Schaffer has waived a preliminary hearing after he was charged with multiple federal crimes at this month's insurrection, and he will soon be extradited to Washington, D.C.
The guitarist is currently being held in the Marion County Jail after surrendering to police on January 17.
The government lawyers and Schaffer's legal team have mutually agreed to handle all proceedings in Washington.
Last week, government lawyers asked the judge to not offer Schaffer a bond when he goes in front of U.S. magistrate.
Schaffer must prove to the federal magistrate that he is not a threat to himself or the public before being released on bail. Others who have been charged for insurrection at the Capitol have been given bail but ordered to surrender their firearms, avoid contact with other alleged Capitol rioters and stay away from all state capitol buildings. Some other alleged rioters have been prohibited from using social media and participating in any political rallies.
Schaffer made his first court appearance on January 18 after turning himself in to police in Hamilton County the day before. He faces six federal charges, including engaging in an act of physical violence in a Capitol building.
Authorities say Schaffer was photographed and seen on surveillance video carrying a pepper-based bear repellant and arguing with Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol.
Just hours after the insurrection, ICED EARTH fans recognized Schaffer in a photo released by federal investigators in which he could be seen at the front of a mob, wearing black leather fingerless tactical gloves and pointing his finger while yelling at someone out of the frame.
Schaffer is believed to be one of at least 200 people who are being investigated by FBI officials over their roles in the insurrection. Additionally, the FBI has received roughly 140,000 digital media tips from the public.
While Schaffer has not yet said anything publicly about his involvement in the riot, his ICED EARTH bandmates put out a statement on Instagram and Facebook opposing the insurrection.
"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," they wrote. "We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions."
Earlier in the month, German daily newspaper Die Welt uploaded a video interview it conducted with Schaffer last November at a Washington, D.C. demonstration supporting Trump and protesting the 2020 presidential election results. In the chat, the guitarist said that "a group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago" and warned that "they're messing with the wrong people here. Because now we see you, and you're going down. Mark my words."
Schaffer also seemingly threw his support behind Trump, saying "he's not your typical Republican" and claiming that America's 45th president is "dealing with a criminal mafia that has been in the shadows running the world, frankly, for a very long time. They wanna destroy all of our sovereignty and bring about global government," he added. "We're not having it… It will not happen. There will be a lot of blood shed, if it comes down to that — trust me. The American people will not go for that bullshit — once they understand what's actually happening. So, that's where we're at. Nobody wants this, but they're pushing us to a point where we have no choice."
Schaffer is also a member of power metal supergroup DEMONS & WIZARDS, which features BLIND GUARDIAN frontman Hansi Kürsch. He also had a solo project called SONS OF LIBERTY.