State Watch

Jan. 6 rioter who pleaded guilty dies by suicide ahead of sentencing

A Pennsylvania man who last year pleaded guilty to multiple charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack killed himself last week while awaiting trial.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the Mercer County Coroner’s office confirmed on Tuesday that Matt Perna had died by suicide. He was 37 years old.

Perna’s family said he died of a “broken heart,” and partly blamed the government and the prosecution for his death, per the Post-Gazette.

“His community, which he loved, his country and the justice system killed his spirit and his zest for life,” Perna’s obituary read, according to the outlet. “The constant delays in hearings and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt’s heart broke and his spirit died and many people are responsible for the pain he endured.”

According to court documents, Perna travelled to Washington, D.C., from Pennsylvania on Jan. 6 to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

At around 2:47 p.m., Perna, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, entered the Capitol through the Senate Wing door and stayed inside the building for about 20 minutes, taking video of the crowd while inside, per court documents. Following the Capitol breach, Perna uploaded a video on social media saying, “The purpose of today was to expose Pence as a traitor.”

Perna’s family said he went to the rally on Jan. 6 to “peacefully stand up for his beliefs” and claimed that he was “ushered in” by police officers, according to the Post-Gazette, though prosecutors accused him of entering a building he knew he did not have permission to enter.

“For this act he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives and people who had never met him,” Perna’s obituary read, according to the outlet.

Perna pleaded guilty to all four charges he faced, including obstruction of an official proceeding, in December. His sentencing had been set for April 1.

Tags Jan. 6 attack Matt Perna United States Capitol attack
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