WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter who stormed the Capitol while he was out on bail on an attempted first-degree murder charge was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday, more than 10 months after he was first identified by online sleuths.
Matthew Jason Beddingfield, of North Carolina, faces felony charges of assaulting officers, impeding officers during a civil disorder and carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon on restricted Capitol grounds, as well as several misdemeanors, according to court records.
Beddingfield was first publicly identified in a HuffPost story in March after online sleuths investigating the Jan. 6 attack used facial recognition to find his mugshot and then confirmed his identification with the help of his father’s Facebook page. Beddingfield traveled to Washington on Jan. 6 with his father, a fellow Donald Trump supporter who also believed the former president’s lies about a stolen election. The two had attended a November 2020 rally in Washington in support of Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss. Images that Beddingfield’s father posted of that rally showed his son wearing identical Nike sneakers and carrying the same pole attached to an American flag as he did on Jan. 6.
When he stormed the Capitol, Beddingfield was on bail on a first-degree attempted murder charge in connection with the December 2019 shooting of a 17-year-old in a Walmart parking lot, when Beddingfield was 19. He was initially held on $1 million bail, but he secured pretrial release when bail was lowered to $100,000. After he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Beddingfield pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in connection with the shooting. He was on probation in the shooting case when he was arrested Tuesday.
Video compiled with the help of online investigators shows Beddingfield at the front of the mob outside the Capitol, jabbing at the police line with his American flag, throwing a metal object at the police and appearing to give a Nazi salute. By the time Beddingfield emerged from the Capitol, his father, Jason Beddingfield, like thousands of others, was on the restricted exterior grounds of the U.S. Capitol, but he is not facing charges as of Tuesday. The elder Beddingfield, who posted on Facebook on Jan. 6 about taking “the country back,” can be seen hopping over a fence restricting access to the Capitol grounds while carrying a pro-Trump flag.
An affidavit signed by a FBI special agent credits citizen investigators and the HuffPost story with identifying Beddingfield, and uses the nicknames he was given by online sleuths tracking his movements. “Beddingfield was associated with two hashtags: #SoggyKidInsider (possibly because he is pictured emerging from the Capitol covered in what appears to be a liquid), and #NaziGrayHat (possibly because he appeared to make a gesture that is commonly associated with the Nazis),” the statement of facts reads.
The FBI affidavit lays out more of Beddingfield's actions inside the Capitol: He entered through the upper west terrace door, made his way through the rotunda, attacked an officer with his flag while near the Old Senate Chamber, and eventually left through the north door at the Capitol.
A probation officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety/Community Corrections confirmed Beddingfield's identification, according to the affidavit. Beddingfield is due to make an appearance in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The FBI has arrested more than 725 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Online sleuths have successfully identified hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol, including dozens of individuals on the FBI’s Capitol Violence webpage who have not yet been arrested. The total number of people who could be arrested either for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 or for engaging in violence outside the building tops 2,500.