Oath Keepers member is 1st to plead guilty in Capitol riot investigation

Rioters clash with law enforcement as they attempt to enter the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Rioters clash with law enforcement as they attempt to enter the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Eric Lee | Bloomberg via Getty Images

A heavy metal musician and founding member of the Oath Keepers extremist group pleaded guilty Friday to charges connected to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and agreed to cooperate with investigators — a first in the massive probe into the deadly Jan. 6 assault.

Jon Schaffer, a guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, entered his plea during a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea deal, which comes 100 days after a mob of Trump supporters violently overran the Capitol, marks a significant step for prosecutors in the case.

Schaffer, who originally faced six counts, pleaded guilty to two charges — obstructing an official proceeding and entering restricted grounds with a dangerous weapon.

In his plea agreement, Schaffer acknowledged that on Jan. 6 he was among the first people to force their way through police lines and into the Capitol. He also acknowledged wearing a tactical vest and carrying bear spray as he did so.

During Friday's hearing, Judge Amit Mehta talked through the plea agreement with Schaffer. Mehta said the agreement stipulates that Schaffer fully cooperate with investigators, including providing testimony and witness interviews.

It is unclear what Schaffer may be able to tell investigators, but a dozen members or associates of the Oath Keepers are charged with conspiracy in connection with the Capitol attack.

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