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Federal charges brought against man accused of inciting violence, rioting

SHALER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Brian Bartels turned himself in to Pittsburgh police around 5 p.m Monday. He was wanted in connection with protests that turned into rioting in downtown Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Federal officials said Bartels is now facing more charges. He is now charged with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder.

“His backpack loaded with rocks and spray paint, Bartels came to Saturday’s protest in Pittsburgh to incite violence. Bartels’s actions turned an otherwise peaceful protest into a violent riot that resulted in an evening of destruction throughout downtown Pittsburgh,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.

Police said Brian Bartels, 20, broke the windows out of a marked Pittsburgh police vehicle Uptown “against the wishes of peaceful protesters who tried to stop him.” That sparked an increase in violence during the protests.

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While serving a search warrant at Bartels home, police said Bartels was not inside, but investigators seized evidence linking him to the crime.

Channel 11 was there as police searched his home on Sunday night.

Channel 11 obtained a copy of the search warrant and found that police found several items inside the home including 2 firearms, books, gloves, cans of spray paint, indica, and a sweatshirt with white writing on the front was found on top of the dryer in the laundry room.

Police got tipped off to Bartels after they got a call from someone who identified him from social media and watching the protest unfold on the news.

According to police paperwork, Bartels works at Amazon. Channel 11 has reached out Amazon for a statement and an update on his employment status. We haven’t heard back from the company yet.

Undercover police officers witnessed Bartels who was dressed in black and wearing a bandanna, grab cans of spray paint from his backpack on the ground and start spray-painting the police car, according to police paperwork.

As the crowd cheered and other man jumped on top of the police car, police say Bartels then threw something at the police car, breaking its window.

A woman stepped in front of Bartels and pleaded with him to stop, police said.

Bartels then jumped on top of the police car and broke the windshield, police said.

Some people in the crowd tried to stop him, according to police, but Bartels continued until the crowd started throwing bricks at the mounted police unit. That is when police said Bartels walked away.

Bartels faces charges of institutional vandalism, rioting, and reckless endangerment of another person.FBI officials told Channel 11 they were assisting Pittsburgh police in the investigation.

The federal charges carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000.