A fired Rocky Mount police officer, and graduate of Floyd County High School, remains in jail after a federal judge Wednesday upheld revocation of an earlier bond because he won’t stay away from guns, homemade bonbs are other items of destruction.
“I learned very well that if you dip your toe in the Rubicon, cross it,” Thomas “TJ” Robertson posted on social media after he and a fellow Rocky Mountain cop attended the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that shutdown Congress posted a selfie of themselves inside the building and bragged about being part of the insurrection. “Cross it hard and violent and play for all the marbles.”
“His recent social media posts may contain elements of bravado and hyperbole, but they provide evidence that Robertson is sympathetic to calls for a violent ‘revolution’ and had been further radicalized by his pending prosecution,” wrote federal judge Christopher Cooper in his decision to keep Robertson in jail until he faces trial as one of more than 535 others charged in the attack on the Capitol.
After being released on bond from the federal charges for his involvement, a raid of his home in Ferrum found an M4 long arm, a partially assembled bomb, silencers and fuses for hand grenades. Conditions of his bond ordered him to not possess weapons or ammunition.
Prosecutors told the court Robertson also ordered 33 firearms, including three M4s and two PA-15 rifles, that were shipped to a gun store in Roanoke. Robertson claims he had not taken “possession” of the weapons, and the dealer had agreed to hold them until his legal problems were resolved.
Judge Cooper didn’t buy into the claim and said federal laws prohibit anyone charged with a felony to “ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition.”
Prosecutors say they are investigating Robertson’s actions while out on bail, and he may face more charges.
Robertson’s attorney, Mark Rollins in Washington, DC, claims his client did nothing more than walk inside the Capitol, pose for the selfie and left peacefully, but posts by he and Jacob Fracker, also fired from the Rocky Mount PD, claim they were part of other actions.
Wrote Judge Cooper in his order to keep Robertson behind bars:
While Robertson is not accused of personally committing any violent acts on January 6, the strong weight of evidence shows that he participated in the Capitol riot, which posed ‘a grave danger to our democracy’ as well as our national security.
We’ve talked with Floyd County residents who say they know Robertson and some say they’re not surprised by his actions, but they would not allow use of their names because they felt he was a violent man they did not wish to publicly cross. Others say they were surprised that he and Fracker went to Washington to take part in the events on Jan. 6.
Rocky Mount resident Bridgett Craighead remembers Robertson, in uniform, dancing at a Black Matters event in their town. She told The New York Times that it made her “feel proud” that he and other officers were there in apparent support of their cause.
But that feeling disappeared when she saw the photo of he and Fracker posing at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
At first, she did not believe it. Not her officers. But there they were, Officer Fracker giving the camera his middle finger. She confronted them on Facebook and they did not deny it. On the contrary, they were proud.
What came next happened fast. The officers were arrested, their homes searched and their guns confiscated. Residents yelled at one another outside the municipal building while the Town Council was inside debating the officers’ jobs. Ms. Craighead and her hair salon received threatening emails and Facebook messages. The officers did too. Everybody, it seemed, was angry.