MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - WMC Action News 5 talked with one of the federal tipsters who turned 36-year-old Matthew Bledsoe in to the FBI.
Bledsoe is the Memphis man now facing federal charges for his role in the insurrection at the Capitol. He scrubbed his social media, but not before multiple people made sure the FBI had his Instagram photos and videos from the Capitol siege.
“We pay for this s***. Where’s those pieces of s*** at?” you can hear him say in one of his posts. The FBI says tipsters forwarded Bledsoe’s videos to them, and those videos show he was in the Capitol the day of the riot. The feds matched his image in the videos to his driver’s license photo, and on Friday, Jan. 15, Bledsoe was arrested.
“I want to compliment our U.S. Attorney Mike Dunavant for the job he’s done,” U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, of Memphis, told WMC Action News 5.
He praised federal investigators and the citizens who helped the FBI identify and locate Bledsoe.
“It’s appropriate,” Cohen said. “And it’s unfortunately necessary to arrest these people and to see that justice is meted out. What they did was commit a terrorist attack on the U.S. Congress, on the U.S. Capitol and on the U.S. Constitution.”
A tipster also told the FBI about a Facebook post from Bledsoe’s wife saying “Matt was inside the Capitol, he was one of the first. They yelled and screamed, that’s about it. My husband is a Patriot soldier.” The post was later deleted.
One of those tipsters explained to WMC why they helped investigators.
“I was shocked. I was scared. I was concerned,” the person said in a phone interview. “I wanted to do something to feel like I had some sort of control over what was going on in our country.”
The tipster said they feared retaliation if Bledsoe’s family or friends found out they had talked to the FBI, but it was a risk worth taking.
“I was just stunned that this was the hill that he (Bledsoe) chose to die on,” said the tipster.
“This needs to be a situation where the citizenry understands,” Rep. Cohen said. “They’re doing a service to the government and a service to their community by reporting these people to the FBI so they can be arrested and hopefully deter this conduct in the future.”
Bledsoe is charged with entering a restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. He was released after his court appearance Friday afternoon and given certain travel restrictions.
Bledsoe faces more than a year in prison and a $200,000 fine if he’s found guilty.