ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – Two Virginia police officers charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington earlier this month have been fired, a town official announced Tuesday.
Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin announced the firings in a statement, but did not provide any additional details on the firing of former Sgt. Thomas “T.J.” Robertson and former Officer Jacob Fracker, The Roanoke Times reported.
The town had no precedent for how to deal with this situation, Ervin wrote.
“The events of the past few weeks have been challenging for our town, as they have been for the entire nation. The actions by two have driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home.” Ervin said in the statement.
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Robertson had told the newspaper he and Fracker received letters of termination from the town Friday, offering them the opportunity to resign before the firing took effect. Fracker, reached via text message, declined to comment Tuesday.
Federal authorities have charged Robertson, 47, and Fracker, 29, with a misdemeanor offense of knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so to engage in conduct that disrupts government business. They also face a petty offense of engaging in disruptive conduct in the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress.
The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is a year in jail. The maximum penalty for the petty offense is six months.
The two men, who were off-duty at the time, were photographed inside the Capitol in front of a statue of John Stark, a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. At least one of the men made an obscene gesture in the photo, the U.S. Department of Justice said. The men then posted about the riot on social media, the federal agency said.
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Robertson, in a statement to Newsweek, admitted that he and Fracker sent the photo to their colleagues and that he posted on his own Facebook after it leaked to social media, Vincent Veloz, a special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police Office, wrote in a statement with the arrest warrant.
“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 (expletive) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us,” Robertson is quoted as saying on Facebook.
Veloz also pointed to Robertson’s statement in an Instagram post that he was “proud” of the photo because he was “willing to put skin in the game.”
Both officers have repeatedly said they did nothing illegal and did not participate in any of the violence that unfolded Jan. 6.
Contributing: Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY; Associated Press
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