A Capitol rioter killed himself while awaiting sentencing — dying from a “broken heart” over his case and because “the justice system killed his spirit and his zest for life,” according to kin.
Matthew Perna, who pled guilty in December to four charges related to the attempted insurrection, killed himself at home Friday.
“The constant delays in hearings, and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt’s heart broke and his spirit died,” says his obituary in The Herald, a local newspaper in Sharon, Pa.
“Matt did not have a hateful bone in his body. He embraced people of all races, income brackets and beliefs, never once berating anyone for having different views,” the obit added.
Perna, 37, drove to Washington on Jan. 6 to attend former President Donald Trump’s rally and later entered the US Capitol, where he was caught on video wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hoodie and chanting “USA!” court records show.
The FBI also found a video of Perna talking about walking “right into the Capitol building” with the purpose of exposing former Vice President Mike Pence as a “traitor” as the veep attempted to certify the 2020 presidential election, according to records and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Perna, a follower of the QAnon conspiracy movement, admitted to the FBI that he was at the Capitol for about 5 or 10 minutes but claimed he was pushed inside by a crowd and that he didn’t intend to enter the building, his criminal complaint states. During a subsequent interview, he copped to using a metal pole to tap on a window inside the Capitol because he was “frustrated,” records show.
The Pennsylvania man pled guilty to all four charges he was hit with and was due to be sentenced April 1 in the US District Court District of Columbia in DC.
“He attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, to peacefully stand up for his beliefs. After learning that the FBI was looking for him, he immediately turned himself in,” Perna’s family wrote in his obituary. “He entered the Capitol through a previously opened door (he did not break in as was reported). He didn’t break, touch, or steal anything. He did not harm anyone, as he stayed within the velvet ropes taking pictures.
“For this act he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives, and people who had never met him. Many people were quietly supportive, and Matt was truly grateful for them.”
Perna’s family noted that he graduated from Pennsylvania State University, loved animals and spent time traveling throughout Europe, Asia, South America, India and the US.
“Matt’s family stood by him during this devastating ordeal and are extremely proud of his passion for life and his pursuit of many dreams. His actions last year are not looked down upon, instead his family is grateful and humbled by his courage,” the obituary said.
“They say God never gives anyone more than they can handle. That statement is not Biblical, nor is it true. Rest Easy Matt, you are finally FREE!” his kin added.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.