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Local man seen wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt during Capitol riots released after arrest

Robert Packer
Packer 1.PNG
PAcker 2.PNG
Posted at 10:19 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 19:50:36-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A Virginia man seen wearing a 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt during the Capitol riot was arrested Wednesday morning.

The FBI issued a complaint with an arrest warrant for Robert Keith Packer on Tuesday. Packer was then arrested by FBI in Newport News on Wednesday.

According to court documents, his charges include one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; and two counts violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Packer is being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail and is had his initial court appearance at 12:30 p.m.

During his initial court appearance he was read his charges. Packer told the judge he would like to seek his own attorney.

Packer will be released from jail after federal prosecutors sought not to seek detention. Instead, Packer will be released on a personal recognizance bond, which means he will not have to pay any money, but he must attend his next court appearance and stay out of Washington, DC.

Packer was identified as the man wearing a sweatshirt that read 'Camp Auschwitz' during the riot by three sources who spoke to CNN.

The bottom of his shirt read "Work Brings Freedom," which is the rough translation to a German phrase that was known for appearing on the concentration camp's gates.

According to court documents, Packer identity has been confirmed through an investigation after a witness notified authorities that he was a regular customer at a store near Newport News.

Police obtained a surveillance photo of Packer in the store wearing the same 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt.

Police then conducted surveillance at his believed residence in Newport News to confirm.

Packer appeared in court on January 19. The judge and prosecutor went back and forth over the conditions of his release. The U.S. District Attorney wanted to require Packer to undergo alcohol treatment and also be supervised by the Eastern District in Norfolk based on his criminal history and background, but the judge didn't think this was necessary.

During the hearing, packer asked the court to appoint counsel for him. He was found to be eligible for a court-appointed attorney and agreed.

Packer agreed to waive in-person proceedings. The government is not seeking detention in this case.

Based on Packer's criminal history and the pre-trial report, the judge decided the following conditions of Packer's release:

  • Verify address
  • Stay away from D.C. except to meet with attorney or other things related to court business
  • Will not require alcohol treatment
  • Do not possess or use any illegal narcotics or substances
  • Does not want to require supervision by Eastern District in Norfolk
  • Will report weekly to D.C. Pre Trial Services (by phone)
  • Advice of any travel outside of Virginia and get approval for travel outside the country
  • Do not illegally possess any firearms
  • Not to possess any active passport or try to get a passport during this case
  • Report all contact with law enforcement

Packer agreed to comply. If he fails to follow any of these conditions, he could be detained pending trial and added charge of contempt.

Packer's next court date is scheduled for February 11 at 2 p.m. for a preliminary hearing.

Stay with News 3 for updates.