Enlarge Photo Credit: Jonas Persson

Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer: Court Date Set for April 6


Iced Earth founder Jon Schaffer (or the attorneys representing him) is once again set to appear in court on April 6 for his role in the Capitol insurrection on January 6.

This particular appearance is related to a motion Schaffer filed on March 20. That motion moved to review his continued detention ordered by Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui on March 19, arguing that he should be released from jail while he awaits trial. An excerpt of the March 20 motion reads:

“Mr. Schaffer is 53 years old. He has no criminal convictions. He does not have a substance abuse or mental health issue. He has no history of violence and was not violent on January 6, 2021. He entered the capitol with pepper spray. He did not threaten anyone with or discharge the spray. He left the capitol after approximately sixty seconds and returned home to Indiana.”

According to newly filed legal paperwork obtained by MetalSucks, attorneys for Schaffer have now directed “the government to provide, by Monday, April 5, 2021 at 12:00 PM, its response, if any, to defendant’s 11 Motion for Review of Detention Order, incorrectly labeled as a Motion to Amend Detention Order.” A hearing on that motion is now scheduled for April 6, 2021, at 12:30 PM via videoconference before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.

In a motion filed on March 24 by Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui, the United States government argued that Schaffer remains a “danger to the community” despite not being a flight risk. As evidence, the judge pointed to a video interview from a pro-Trump rally in November of 2020, during which Schaffer told a reporter that “If someone wants to bring violence, we’re ready for that” before asserting that “there will be a lot of bloodshed.” The judge said this interview demonstrates Schaffer’s action were “not an isolated event.”

The judge further argued that “Mr. Schaffer appeared in the video to be one of the first people to breach the Capitol” and that “There is some evidence, and evidence still being developed, that defendant is affiliated with groups that present ongoing threats,” such as the domestic terrorist group known as the Oath Keepers (The Oath Keepers have denied any affiliation with Schaffer).

That decision will be reviewed on April 6.

Schaffer turned himself into the authorities on January 17 and was held in a Marion County, Indiana jail until on or around March 15, when he was finally extradited to Washington, D.C. to stand trial. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington has faced delays due to the unusually high caseload resulting from the Capitol riots, currently tasked with handling more than 250 such cases compared to 20 in the same time period in 2020.

Attorneys acting on behalf of Schaffer filed a motion on March 8 to dismiss all charges against him. Citing the Speedy Trial Act, they claimed that “no indictment or information has been filed within the time limit” of 30 days from arrest.

Schaffer is being represented by the Attorneys for Freedom Law Firm, a practice advertising a specialty in criminal defense, with offices located in Arizona and Hawaii.

The FBI Indianapolis Field Office indicated Schaffer, who allegedly sprayed Capitol police with bear spray, faces six federal charges:

  • “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority”
  • “Disrupting the Orderly Conduct of Government Business”
  • “Knowingly Engages in an Act of Physical Violence Against any Person or Property in any Restricted Building or Grounds”
  • “Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building”
  • “Engage in an Act of Physical Violence in a Capitol Building”
  • “Parade, Demonstrate, or Picket in a Capitol Building”

Footage of Schaffer’s role in the riots that surfaced on February 16 seems to show him engaging in a physical fight with police officers attempting to protect the building.

Following his arrest, The New York Times reported that authorities believed Schaffer to be a member of the Oath Keepers, an organized, far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers who planned the invasion of the building in advance, and can be seen wearing an Oath Keepers hat in photos from the insurrection. Days later, however, the Indiana chapter of the Oath Keepers released a statement in which they asserted that Schaffer is not a member of their organization.

Iced Earth vocalist Stu Block (ex-Into Eternity), bassist Luke Appleton, and guitarist Jake Dreyer (Witherfall) have since all announced their departure from Iced Earth. Vocalist Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) quit Schaffer’s other project, Demons & Wizards, earlier this month. Both of those bands no longer appear on the current or former artist pages of Schaffer’s longtime label, Century Media. The label has yet to issue a formal statement as to whether or not they’ve dropped the two acts.

Schaffer has been quite open about his far-right political views for years, openly discussing his mistrust of government (with a special emphasis on the federal reserve), asserting his belief that Trump’s loss in the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election was tipped by illegal immigrants, speaking out in favor of arming teachers to prevent school shootings, and claiming that COVID-19 is a hoax.

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