Matthew Lee Rupert, 28-years-old, of Galesburg, Illinois, has been charged with participating in and organizing riots, civil disorder and the possession of unregistered explosives. Rupert posted an invitation on his public Facebook page asking for fellow “goons” to travel with him to Minneapolis, where he said he planned to rent hotel rooms, wreak havoc and “take hella good videos.”
Rupert made good on his promise, with livestreamed videos showing him participating in riots and distributing explosives. The video of his misdeeds is more than two hours long, and at one point, he explicitly stated that he had bombs.
In the video, which FBI investigators have cited as evidence in their complaint, Rupert can be heard saying things like, “We came here to riot.” At one point, he is seen handing another rioter an explosive device and telling that person to throw it at SWAT officers. “He’s throwing my bombs… they’re going to bomb the police with them,” he bragged.
The complaint also says he took lighter fluid and used it to set fire to a Sprint store before going inside an Office Depot store and stealing items.
He then shared his plans to head back to Chicago and continue to riot there. In additional videos, he can be seen passing a dark café with a broken window saying, “There’s gotta be a register in there” and encouraging someone to go inside and get it. Officers arrested him in Chicago after violating the city's emergency curfew order.
Because Rupert crossed state lines to riot, his actions are considered federal crimes. Officers found destructive devices, cash and other objects in a search of his car.
In a court appearance, he acted surprised at the charge against him of possessing an explosive device despite bragging about using them in the video. He did not officially enter a plea in his initial appearance, which was held over the phone because of coronavirus-related court closures, and he agreed to stay in custody and be transported by U.S. marshals to face charges in Minnesota. According to his public defender, he will challenge his detention there.
Meanwhile, 31-year-old Timothy O’Donnell has been charged with torching a police car while covering his face with a Joker mask during riots in Chicago. Federal prosecutors say they have footage of him opening the gas tank of the squad car and placing a lit object inside of it. The car then burst into flames, and O’Donnell can be seen walking away.
The mask, inspired by the villain in the Batman series, obscured his facial features, but a distinctive tattoo on his neck of the word “PRETTY” was used to identify him. A Joker mask was later recovered from his bedroom and he was arrested on the spot. He is now facing a count of arson that could see him sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.
The act was part of a riot that ended up with at least 90 of the city’s vehicles damaged and around 20 completely destroyed.
Unfortunately, we're likely to see a lot more stories like these as rioters around the country continue their heinous attacks on the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to keep everyone safe.
Sources for this article include: