MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 28-year-old Illinois man pleaded guilty Wednesday to setting a fire in a boarded-up Sprint store in Minneapolis during the unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Matthew Rupert, of Galesburg, Illinois, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of arson, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota says.
According to his guilty plea, Rupert posted on May 28 to Facebook that he was going to Minneapolis and asked if any “goons” were coming with him. This was just two days after bystander video of Floyd’s arrest went viral, sparking days of protest and nights of arson and looting in the Twin Cities.
On May 29, Rupert posted a self-recorded cellphone video to Facebook, announcing he was in Minneapolis and that he came “to riot.” Investigators says the video depicts Rupert encouraging violence against law enforcement, damaging property, breaking into buildings, and looting businesses.
At one point in the video, Rupert is seen asking for lighter fluid before entering a boarded-up Sprint store on Nicollet Avenue. Rupert and others knock down several boxes in the store and gather them in a pile. Rupert douses the boxes with lighter fluid while a teenager, at Rupert’s direction, lights the pile on fire.
The video shows Rupert fleeing the store, saying: “I lit it on fire!” Investigators say the store sustained damage as a result of the fire.
Rupert’s sentencing date has yet to be announced. Rupert is among several people charged with arson in connection to the unrest in the Twin Cities.
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