Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk today announced the guilty plea of 28-year-old MATTHEW LEE RUPERT to one count of arson. RUPERT, who was originally charged on June 1, 2020, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Nancy E. Brasel. A sentencing date will be set later.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, on May 28, 2020, RUPERT, a resident of Galesburg, Illinois, posted messages on his Facebook account referring to the public protests that took place in the twin towns after the death of George Floyd, including one who said, “I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow which only comes from morons, I’m renting hotel rooms.” On May 29, 2020, RUPERT posted a self-recorded cellphone video to his Facebook account stating he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his Facebook Live video, RUPERT announced he had come “to riot” and is depicted encouraging violence against law enforcement, actively damaging property, breaking into buildings and looting businesses.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and court documents, the video shows RUPERT asking for lighter fluid before entering a boarded up Sprint store on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. RUPERT walked through the store and eventually entered a back room while telling the others that he had found a safe. RUPERT and others then dropped several boxes in a heap on the floor. RUPERT doused the pile of cartons with lighter fluid and another individual – at the time a miner and acting under RUPERT’s direction – set the pile on fire. RUPERT fled the building and said, “I set it on fire!” The store suffered damage from the fire.
This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), with assistance from the FBI Field Office in Chicago, the FBI Springfield Field Office and the Chicago Police Department. .
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela M. Munoz and Jordan L. Sing.
MATTHEW LEE RUPERT, 28
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600