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Photo surfaces showing two Rocky Mount police officers inside Capitol on Wednesday

One officer tells 10 News they didn’t do anything illegal

Two Rocky Mount police officers under investigation after being inside Capitol on Wednesday
Two Rocky Mount police officers under investigation after being inside Capitol on Wednesday

ROCKY MOUNT, Va.UPDATE - Wednesday 1/13

Both men now face federal charges in connection with last Wednesday’s events at the U.S. Capitol.

UPDATE - Monday 1/11

A photo of two Rocky Mount police officers at the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday has caused people to speak out both in support of and against the officers.

Rocky Mount town leaders remained silent Monday, although that may change as the Town Council hosts a regularly scheduled council meeting Monday night.

10 News attempted to speak with both Rocky Mount Police Chief Ken Criner and Town Manager James Ervin to no avail.

This comes as numerous police departments across the country are now investigating their own for attending Wednesday’s events at the Capitol.

We reached out to both the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association for comment on off-duty law enforcement participation in the events in general.

We only heard back from the Virginia Sheriffs Association, in which Executive Director John Jones said:

“The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA) denounces in the strongest terms the horrifying events at the Capitol of the United States on January 6, 2021. The VSA applauds all efforts by appropriate law enforcement agencies to identify and arrest any individual that unlawfully entered the Capitol or otherwise broke the rule of law.”

UPDATE

In the days since the riot at the U.S. Capitol in which people made their way inside America’s sacred halls of democracy, participants from all across the country are starting to be outed. That includes in our area, where an activist shared this post on Facebook Saturday night questioning if two Rocky Mount police officers went inside the Capitol that day.

Screenshot obtained by 10 News shows activist, Bridgette Craighead's viral post about the two Rocky Mount police officers. (WSLS 10)

The photo, authenticated by 10 News and posted above in the screenshot, shows two men standing in front of the John Stark statue, located inside the Capitol’s Crypt. Stark of New Hampshire is famous for coining the slogan, “Live free or die.”

Shortly after that, Jacob Fracker, a Rocky Mount officer posted publicly on his now deleted Facebook page about it, saying, “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? Not like I did anything illegal, way too much to lost to go there, but y’all do what you feel you need to do.”

Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker's Facebook Page captured by 10 News. (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Later in the comment thread, Fracker made sure it was clear he was referring to the activist’s post.

Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker's Facebook Page captured by 10 News. (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Then, Thomas Robertson, another Rocky Mount officer, chimed in on the same post later with a message of support saying Congress and government are both of our enemies. He then wrote: “PS. Here’s the picture in question and I am [expletive] PROUD of it. It shows 2 men willing to actually put skin in the game and stand up for their rights.”

Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker's Facebook Page captured by 10 News. (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

He finished by telling four locals, including Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney, AJ Dudley, to [expletive] off and hide behind the men.

Rocky Mount Police Officer Jacob Fracker's Facebook Page captured by 10 News. (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

10 News reached out to both Fracker and Robertson. Fracker, through his wife, declined to comment.

Robertson told us he needed the investigation to be over before he talked to us, but said the picture was taken “long after any disorder and we were let in and escorted by Capitol Police.” He added “I walked through an open door guarded by two Capitol police officers, was handed a bottle of water by then and asked to stay within a roped area, which we did.”

Robertson maintains neither he nor Fracker did anything illegal and said they didn’t participate in any violence.

10 News asked Capitol Police about those allegations and we have yet to hear back.

Neither man is on the FBI fliers looking for information about the riot.

Sunday morning, about 12 hours following the viral post, Rocky Mount issued a statement saying the town supports lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly by its employees, but doesn’t condone the unlawful acts that occurred that day. The two officers are both on administrative leave.

Additional questions and requests for interviews to both the town manager and police chief have gone unanswered.


UPDATE

10 News has confirmed Thomas Robertson is one of the two officers placed on administrative leave.


ORIGINAL STORY

Two Rocky Mount police officers are on administrative leave after attending the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C. that turned into a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“The Town of Rocky Mount fully supports all lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly by its employees but does not condone the unlawful acts that occurred that day,” the department said in a press release Sunday.

The officers were off-duty at the time.

Based on the available information, the department has notified federal authorities and the individuals that were present at the event are on administrative leave pending review.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A Capitol Police officer watches supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress will hold a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Cheriss May/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

About the Authors:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors Virginia Today on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

Shayne Dwyer is an award-winning journalist and a member of the 10 News team since May 2018.