Former officer charged in Capitol riot jailed after 'shopping spree' for dozens of firearms

After purchasing nearly three dozen assault weapons online, a former Virginia police officer was ordered to remain in jail.Thomas Robertson, a Rocky Mount police sergeant, was present on the day that the Capitol riot broke out. He was initially charged for misdemeanor violations amounting trespass, but was later added to the felony list. He was released on bail, and he was ordered to not violate any federal laws. He was fired by the police department.Robertson pleaded no guilty and was required to comply with federal gun laws. He was taken into custody earlier this month, after FBI agents discovered that Robertson ordered 34 firearms online for shipment to Roanoke gun dealers.Prosecutors claimed that agents found a partially assembled pipe bomb at his house. The FBI lab determined it could be used for making a working device. Although it did not contain explosive material, agents found gunpowder cans nearby.Image by Jacob Fracker Thomas Robertson (U.S. Department of Justice)Robertson's lawyer stated that the firearms were mostly World War II-era weapons, which he purchased because he is interested in antique guns. He also said that the components of the pipe bomb were intended for Robertson's previous use as a prop or dud to teach law enforcement safety classes when he was a cop.Robertson's lawyer also claimed that Robertson didn't take possession of the guns he purchased online and therefore he did not violate the law prohibiting felonies from possessing guns.Pipe bomb partially assembled (FBI).Christopher Cooper, a U.S. District Judge, stated Wednesday that it is a crime to ship firearms to someone who has been charged with a felony. The law holds that anyone who causes a gun or other firearm to be shipped is just as responsible as the person who actually ships it. This has been established by previous court decisions.Cooper noted also that Robertson had expressed pride in his participation in the Capitol riot, and enthusiasm for future political violence online.Cooper stated, "The undisputed facts show a concrete danger that Robertson might engage in or support acts of ideologily motivated violence if he is released at this moment."The judge did not decide whether the pipe bomb components were also in violation of Robertson’s bail conditions.