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Search warrant turns up partial pipe bomb in home of ex-officer indicted in Capitol riot

The Justice Department is asking for a new arrest warrant for Thomas Robertson. He's accused of buying dozens of guns while forbidden from possessing firearms.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to issue a new arrest warrant for a former Rocky Mount, Virginia, police officer accused of purchasing 34 firearms and hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing ammunition while awaiting trial on felony Capitol riot charges.

In a motion to revoke his release filed Wednesday, the Justice Department said Thomas Robertson had shown “utter disregard” for a court order prohibiting him from possessing firearms while on pretrial release.

Robertson, and another Rocky Mount officer, Jacob Fracker, were charged in January with violent entry and disorderly conduct for their alleged participation in the Capitol riot on January 6.

According to the DOJ, following the riot, Roberts posted on social media, “CNN and the Left are just made 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.”

On January 13, a federal magistrate judge granted Robertson pretrial release under conditions, including that he not violate any federal, state or local laws while on release and that he refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device or other dangerous weapon. He was given two days to remove any firearms form his property.

According to the DOJ, a search warrant conducted on Robertson’s property four days later uncovered eight firearms and a large amount of ammunition. On January 19, a magistrate judge again ordered him not to possess firearms.

But Robertson again didn’t obey that order, the Justice Department says. Instead, shortly after his indictment and arraignment in early February, the FBI says Robertson began buying firearms and ammunition online and having them shipped on his behalf to a gun store in Roanoke, Virginia  – a violation of federal law making it a crime for anyone under felony indictment to ship, transport or receive firearms or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce.

Investigators said they subsequently obtained a search warrant on Robertson’s Yahoo and Venmo accounts, which turned up multiple messages and transactions appearing to involve the purchase of firearms. In at least one case, the FBI says Robertson may have tried to obscure a $3,600 transaction by referring to it on Venmo as being for “Wedding Photos.”

In total, the FBI says Robertson purchased 34 firearms – including multiple M1 carbines – and hundreds of rounds of armor-piercing ammunition.

The FBI also said a second search warrant executed on Robertson’s home on June 29 turned up a loaded M4 rifle, a partially assembled pipe bomb and a box labelled "ALERRT kit, preps and booby trap sims."

In an interview with FBI agents following the search, Robertson allegedly spontaneously said that “if the search warrant related to him buying guns, he had bought them online and hadn’t even picked them up yet.”

FBI agents also interviewed the owner of the gun shop, who confirmed that Robertson had 34 firearms waiting for him and that Robertson had allegedly told him he “cannot have guns because of his current bond conditions.” The gun shop owner also told the FBI Robertson had been in the store as recently as a week prior to handle the guns.

In its filing, the Justice Department said Robertson’s “extensive and flagrant violation of the terms of his release order” couple with his “calls for future violence” show that there’s no combination of release conditions that can protect the public from him.

As of Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper had not issued a ruling on the government’s motion and Robertson remained out on pretrial release. Robertson’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Robertson’s next scheduled court appearance was set for August 3 at 10 a.m. by video conference.

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