SHAFTSBURY — A Vermont state trooper has been suspended and an internal investigation launched after the off-duty officer was accused of posting personal statements on social media that support the insurgency at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said Thursday.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan called for the officer’s resignation or firing.
Schirling said that an internal investigation is underway into the conduct of Sgt. Lucas Hall, a member of the Vermont State Police’s Shaftsbury barracks.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, an account under the name Luke Hall said: “God Bless America!!!! Cheers to the great Patriots in Washington DC. The time has come… Let’s gooooo!!!”
A person responded that “there are going to be riots,” followed by a sad-face emoji.
Hall in turn said: “It might be war… We are beginning to see good, law-abiding citizens stand against a corrupted Government.”
In a news release Thursday, Schirling said the posts “appear to support the criminal insurgency that occurred yesterday at the U.S. Capitol and to advocate for such insurgency to continue.”
A violent mob loyal to Pres. Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, an attempt to overturn the presidential election results, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House.
A woman was fatally shot by Capitol Police and three died in medical emergencies during the storming of the Capitol, according to the Associated Press. The three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation were evacuated to secure locations and later returned to the Capitol to complete the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Hours after Luke Hall’s social media posts emerged, Donovan called for the state trooper to either resign or be terminated from his job.
“It is one thing for a private citizen to say it, but an entirely different thing for a sworn law enforcement officer of the Vermont State Police to publicly condone or support the violent overthrow of our government,” Donovan said in an interview. “You are a police officer 24/7, and it is a position to uphold trust.”
When asked if the Attorney General’s Office is planning any action against Hall, Donovan said his fate rests on his superiors in the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state police.
Hall couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday, and it’s not clear if he is being represented by an attorney.
Schirling said the internal investigation will be completed in a few days. Meanwhile, Hall has been suspended without pay.
The commissioner also echoed Donovan’s position: “While we recognize the rights of all people including sworn law enforcement officers to express their views, advocating for the overthrow of the constitutionally defined democratic election process by force or violence violates our oath of office to uphold the Constitution.”
State Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, said in a statement Thursday that he supports Schirling’s move to investigate “the possible act of criminal insurgency by a Vermont State police officer.”
He said the failed insurrection “cannot go without consequence” and that “anyone participating in the attack on the Capitol needs to be held fully accountable for their actions.”
Vermont State Police became aware of the social media posts through reports from members of the agency and of the public, said spokesman Adam Silverman.
The Facebook account in question appeared to have been deactivated when the Manchester Journal checked around 9 p.m. Wednesday.