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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.
Matthew Rupert

A 28-year-old Illinois man accused of traveling to Minnesota and recording himself on Facebook Live setting fire to a cell phone store during the May 2020 riots has pleaded guilty to arson. 

Matthew Lee Rupert of Galesburg, Illinois, pleaded guilty to one count of arson this week in U.S. District Court, a news release says. He'll be sentenced at a later date. 

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, citing court documents and his guilty plea.

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. 

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