For Immediate Release
Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Arson of Minneapolis Cell Phone Store
Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk today announced the guilty plea of MATTHEW LEE RUPERT, 28, to one count of arson. RUPERT, who was initially charged on June 1, 2020, pleaded guilty today before Judge Nancy E. Brasel in U.S. District Court. A sentencing date will be scheduled at a later time.
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 referencing the public protests occurring in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd, including one that stated, “I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms.” On May 29, 2020, RUPERT posted a self-recorded cell phone video to his Facebook account indicating that he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his Facebook Live video, RUPERT announced that he came “to riot,” and is depicted encouraging violence against law enforcement officers, actively damaging property, breaking into buildings, and looting businesses.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, the video depicts RUPERT asking for lighter fluid before entering a boarded-up Sprint store located on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. RUPERT canvassed the store and eventually entered a backroom while telling others that he had located a store safe. RUPERT and others then knocked several boxes into a pile on the ground. RUPERT sprayed the pile of boxes with lighter fluid and another individual—at the time a juvenile and acting at RUPERT’S direction—lit the pile on fire. RUPERT fled the building and stated, “I lit it on fire!” The store sustained damage as a result of the fire.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI Minneapolis Field Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with assistance from the FBI Chicago Field Office, 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
- Arson, 1 count