Illinois Man Sentenced for Arson of Minneapolis Cell Phone Store
MINNEAPOLIS – An Illinois man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for setting fire to a cell phone store in Minneapolis in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.
According to court documents, on May 28, 2020, 29-year-old Matthew 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 broadcast a Facebook Live video indicating that he was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rupert announced that he came “to riot,” and is depicted handing out artillery-shell fireworks, 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 also 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 doused the pile of boxes with lighter fluid and then directed another individual—at the time a juvenile—to light the pile on fire. Rupert fled the building and stated, “I lit it on fire!”
The store sustained significant damage as a result of the fire.