Federal authorities have arrested Matthew Beddingfield for his role in the Capitol insurrection, which he attended with his father while out on bail for a first-degree attempted murder charge.
Beddingfield, who was arrested on Tuesday, was caught on camera brawling with police and entering the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. He could also be seen jabbing at cops with a flagpole, and later was spotted inside the building. In addition to several misdemeanors, he faces felony charges of assaulting officers, impeding officers during a civil disorder, and carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon on restricted Capitol grounds, as first reported by NBC News.
HuffPost revealed Beddingfield’s identity more than 10 months ago, on March 26, in a story that built off the work of a network of citizen-sleuths. They used facial recognition software to match footage of Beddingfield at the Capitol to his publicly available mug shot from a 2019 arrest for attempted murder.
In December 2019, Beddingfield ― then 19 ― allegedly shot another teenager in the head in the parking lot of a North Carolina Walmart before fleeing the scene in a Dodge Charger. He was held in jail on a $1 million bond, then was released a few weeks later when it was lowered to $100,000. He has since pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Beddingfield’s case highlights the growing role of facial recognition in criminal investigations. Facial recognition tools can misidentify Black and Asian people at alarming rates, and their widespread use would have serious implications for privacy and civil liberties. The Jan. 6 attack, however, was carried out by an overwhelmingly white crowd. In the Capitol attack investigation, facial recognition has given investigators ― both in law enforcement and in the general public ― promising leads that can then be confirmed through other methods. In Beddingfield’s case, it was his father’s public Facebook posts that helped online sleuths confirm his identity.
Beddingfield traveled to the Capitol with his father, Jason. In long conversations with HuffPost for the story, the elder Beddingfield acknowledged that he himself had traveled to the Capitol on Jan. 6 in support of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election, but was adamant that his son wasn’t there.
“He was not there. He was not with me. He did not do the things that have been speculated about,” he said at the time. “I mean, there’s a lot of doppelgangers in the world, isn’t it? All technology is not foolproof, is it?”
Jason Beddingfield suggested that HuffPost instead focus its reporting on the conspiracy theories he had read online that led him, like millions of Trump supporters, to believe that there was some grand multistate, bipartisan criminal conspiracy to steal the election for President Joe Biden.
“That’s an historical story,” he said. “The stuff that you’re chasing after is like dust floating through a hurricane. It doesn’t mean anything.”