PITTSBURGH, PA- He’s 20 years old. He’s facing a mess of charges. And mommy and daddy were the ones who handed him over to police.
Brian Bartels is the 20-year-old who police say turned a protest into a riot on Saturday in Pittsburgh. And on Monday, he turned himself in to law enforcement Monday — escorted by his parents.
According to police, he faces charges of institutional vandalism, rioting, and reckless endangerment of another person.
The investigation started when police were trying to figure out who destroyed a police SUV over the weekend. He had been covered in spray paint and then set on fire during the riots.
They got an anonymous tip from one of the people Bartels works with.
The caller told police they recognized Bartels’ image on the news and on social media. That person told police that on Saturday Bartel said: “If I’m not at work tomorrow, ask the boss to give me paid time off”.
Police arrived at his home with a search warrant.
That’s where they found two guns, six spray paint cans, gloves, and the sweatshirt that the suspect had been wearing during the protest, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
There’s also a video that surfaced which shows him smashing the police SUV’s windows and tagging it with spray paint, police said.
The suspect can be seen dressed in all-black Antifa-like gear.
In the video, a woman tries to stop him from damaging the SUV, but Bartels flipped her off in refusal and keeps going.
In the tweet of Bartels turning himself over to police, Jason Howerton refers to him as an “Antifa kid”. That’s because his dress and actions were characteristic of the group’s members – but apparently an official link between Bartels and Antifa has not been established.
Pittsburgh Public Safety reported over the weekend that 60 businesses and other properties were vandalized. Police made 44 arrests as a result of Saturday’s protests.
Police say the actions of Bartel – which happened around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday – are what turned the protests into a violent riot.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert held a press conference and called it a “damn shame” that Antifa-like rioters were essentially hijacking the protests.
“I am so angry at the fact that some segment hijacked this and then took some of the youth and brought them into the mix,” Schubert said.
“There’s no doubt that that’s who’s doing it and a lot of things we’re seeing are white males, dressed in the anarchist, ANTIFA, they’re ones who are fueling a lot of this.
It’s just a damn shame that they took advantage of the situation, for something, something happened in another state where somebody died who shouldn’t have died, and they hijacked that message for their own.”
It’s not the only case over the last few days where someone was charged with inciting riots.
The 28-year-old suspect was hit with a criminal complaint composed of eight pages from a federal court in Minnesota for civil disorder, carrying on a riot and possession of unregistered destructive devices.
NEW: DOJ announces federal complaint charging Illinois man with traveling to Minnesota to riot with the possession of explosive devices.
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) June 2, 2020
Matthew Lee Rupert seems to be the first among all the riots and looting to have landed federal charges since they started.
The criminal complaint alleges that Rupert engaged in various acts along the lines of rioting and looting while traveling across interstate lines.
What makes the criminal complaint so intriguing is that there’s been speculation over whether protests within various cities were infiltrated by organizations and groups not local to certain areas where demonstrations were happening.
“Light that bitch and throw it at them!” Matthew Rupert, 28, of Galesburg, posted video of himself lighting a building on fire and looting stores during #GeorgeFloyd protests in Minnesota and Chicago, Feds allege. https://t.co/0iWUyEtDJC pic.twitter.com/DvoDWfjBcC
— Jason Meisner (@jmetr22b) June 1, 2020
With Rupert’s charges alleging him being in Minneapolis rioting, while having been said to reside in Illinois, lays some credence to that suspicion.
Rupert attended a telephonic removal hearing in front of U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer in Chicago, and he’s going to be sent back to Minnesota to face his charges.
The defendant was said to have maintained his innocence during the hearing by way of his attorney, reportedly.
As of now, there’s nothing among the criminal complaint against Rupert that alleges he has ties to any organizations.
However, the criminal complaint noted that Rupert allegedly maintained a Facebook profile under the name “El Ricco Rupert.”
This little turd drove 800 miles from downstate IL to Minneapolis and then Chicago with explosives and cash. His name is Matthew Lee Rupert. from Galesburg, IL Who is funding him? https://t.co/nSvReRzsFt pic.twitter.com/R7TGUFPExL
— Flush the Turd on Nov. 3rd (@Real_TJ_Thomas) June 2, 2020
Officials say this account boasted a post on May 28th noting that Rupert intended to travel to Minneapolis to engage in the riots, and asked if any “goons” wanted to join:
“I’m going to Minneapolis tomorrow who coming only goons I’m renting hotel rooms.”
Facebook has since deleted the account from the platform.
From this same deleted account, Rupert allegedly posted a video on May 29th in which he said the following:
“There are SWAT trucks up there. They got SWAT trucks up there . . . I’ve got some bombs if some of you all want to throw them back . . . bomb them back . . . here I got some more . . . light it and throw it.”
JUST IN: Federal charges have been filed against Matthew Lee Rupert related to the looting in Chicago. The charge was filed in Minnesota, but the complaint says Rupert came to Chicago and is heard on a video saying "let's start a riot" and "I'm going to start doing some damage." pic.twitter.com/F674uwOm1B
— Jon Seidel (@SeidelContent) June 1, 2020
While making the aforementioned comments, Rupert allegedly started handing out what could be construed as explosive devices that contained green wicks to people in the area.
After handing out the explosive devices, Rupert allegedly said:
“Light that bitch and throw it at them.”
An unknown subject was said to have lit one of the devices and threw it in an unspecified direction, to which Rupert allegedly said on the video:
“He’s throwing my bombs…they’re going to bomb the police with them.”
According to the criminal complaint, an explosion can be heard in the background shortly thereafter, and Rupert said:
“Good shot my boy…Fuck 12”
Officials say that he also claimed to have set a fire inside of a Sprint store and took video of himself looting an Office Depot.
Rupert was then said to have made his way back to Chicago on or around May 30th. Investigators saw that he posted his traveling back from Minnesota to Illinois on the Facebook page.
Matthew Rupert allegedly had several homemade explosive devices when cops busted him in Chicago.
Authorities believe he joined the anti-police brutality protests for the general purpose of causing mayhem.https://t.co/X7zy9OZViQ
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 1, 2020
It was due to a curfew violation that Rupert saw himself initially arrested at 2:21 a.m. on May 31st.
When police had him in custody for the curfew violation, they discovered the explosive devices inside of his car which were said to be consistent with what was seen on the video.
Rupert’s girlfriend, who was present inside of the vehicle when he was arrested, allegedly told authorities about some of his criminal activity.
Even with the charges filed, the investigation is still ongoing reportedly as to what other criminal conduct Rupert may have engaged in while in Minneapolis.
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