Skip to main content

Illinois man gets nearly 9 years in prison for arson during riots in Minneapolis

He livestreamed himself lighting a Sprint store on fire.
Matthew Rupert

An Illinois man who traveled to the Twin Cities during the civil unrest following George Floyd's death has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison. 

Matthew Lee Rupert, 29, of Galesburg, Illinois, pleaded guilty to one count of arson in April after he intentionally set fire to a Sprint store in Minneapolis on May 29, 2020. He was sentenced Tuesday to 105 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

“Matthew Rupert chose to drive more than 400 miles from his home in Illinois to Minnesota to engage in violence and destruction, all while broadcasting it for the world to see. Peaceful protest was not on his agenda,” said Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk in a statement. 

Rupert was charged June 1, 2020, after he shared on Facebook his plans to travel to Minneapolis. In a video he recorded of himself on May 29, 2020, he indicated he was in Minneapolis and came "to riot."

He's seen on the video encouraging violence against police, as well as actively damaging property, breaking into buildings and looting businesses.

The video shows Rupert asking for lighter fluid before breaking into a boarded-up Sprint store in Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, the release says. Inside, he canvassed the store and made his way into a back room, where he told others that he'd found the safe. 

Rupert and others then knocked down boxes, sprayed the pile with lighter fluid and then a then-juvenile acting at Rupert's direction lit the pile on fire. He then fled the building, saying: "I lit it on fire." 

The store was damaged as a result of the fire. 

“Mr. Rupert made his way to Minneapolis for the express purpose of instigating lawless behavior on our local streets. He demonstrated no purpose other than endangering peaceful protests by actively encouraging violence against law enforcement and personally destroying community businesses," said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office.

Rupert was the first person to be charged in connection to the riots following Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 5.46.37 PM

Video shows officers ended pursuit before fatal crash in Anoka

The crash occurred when the driver fled police during an attempted traffic stop in Coon Rapids.

Eli Hart

6-year-old Eli Hart identified as boy found dead in car trunk

The kindergartner's father was trying to get full custody of his son.

IMG_3509

Boy found dead in trunk of car in Mound was kindergartner

"It is horrifying and difficult to process a tragedy of this magnitude, especially in our close-knit community," the superintendent wrote.

Minneapolis police

Man found yelling for help after being shot in Minneapolis

The shooting occurred on the 800 block of Elwood Avenue North at around 9:15 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 9.56.21 AM

Minneapolis North principal says she was fired, district says otherwise

“MPS requires schools to follow protocols in times like that and I did not,” Friestleben said.

Kris Richard Severin

Inmate who escaped Minnesota prison is captured

The inmate escaped Wednesday morning.

Brave New Comedy Workshop in downtown Minneapolis.

Brave New Workshop cancels shows due to COVID-19 cases

The shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre.

Austin Retterath

Body of missing U of M student found in Mississippi River

Austin Retterath was last seen alive in the morning hours of May 8.

"Love" mural seen in St. Paul.

Summer mural events to bring together community, shine light on MN artists

The 2022 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival will take place this weekend in St. Paul's Creative Enterprise Zone, with ensuing events happening this summer.

14869-Manitou-Road-NE-Prior-Lake-MN-55372-6110268-image37

Gallery: Remodeled lakeside home in Prior Lake on market for $2.8M

It offers privacy at the end of a dead-end road fronting onto Lower Prior Lake.

golden valley police department

Carjacking outside ice arena in Golden Valley under investigation

Golden Valley PD confirmed it received a report of a carjacking Monday evening.

Related

Matthew Rupert

Illinois man pleads guilty to arson after traveling to Minneapolis to riot

The 28-year-old recorded himself on Facebook live causing destruction in Minneapolis last summer.

Samuel Frey

Brooklyn Park man gets prison sentence for arson during 2020 riots

Samuel Elliot Frey pleaded guilty to setting fire to a St. Paul health store.

Wells Fargo

Monticello man sentenced to federal prison for Wells Fargo arson

He admitted to throwing items on the fire in hopes of making the building burn faster.

Henderson ziegler

Savage man gets 6.5 years in prison for arson at Dakota County courthouse

He and another man were charged in connection to the May 29 fire.

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 2.58.20 PM

Brainerd man sentenced to 4 years in prison for arson at Third Precinct

He's also ordered to pay $12 million in restitution.

Flickr - Target corporate headquarters - Seppt 2020

Man who broke into Target HQ during unrest guilty of arson, riot

The break-in happened after false reports about a man's suicide spread on social media.

riot

Minneapolis man pleads guilty to arson that destroyed business during riots

The 32-year-old pleaded guilty Sept. 25 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Flickr - Target corporate headquarters - Seppt 2020

St. Paul man gets more than 8 years in prison for arson, riot at Target HQ

The unrest happened after false reports about a man's suicide spread on social media in August 2020.