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California man charged with raiding Capitol, posing as press

Capitol riots
Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 10, 2021

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man has been arrested after being charged with joining the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol while trying to impersonate a member of the media.

Matthew Thomas Purse, 45, was arrested in Irvine on Friday to face federal charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, the Orange County Register reported.

Purse was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a tactical vest and black helmet marked with the word “press,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday. There is no evidence that Purse has legitimate press credentials or is affiliated with any news organization, the FBI said in an arrest warrant affidavit accompanying the complaint.

When reached by The Associated Press on Saturday, Purse said he was in the building as “part of a legitimate news organization.” He declined to name the news organization, saying he’s been facing violent threats.

“The record will show I was not there in any illegal capacity,” Purse said.

Video footage shows Purse entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 through the eastern side of the building, carrying a long black pole, with what appears to be a recording device at the end, and proceeding to the Rotunda, according to court documents.

Purse was identified by a confidential source who saw him on a livestream video, according to the FBI.