A man who traveled from Virginia with the intent to instill violence during protests over the Confederate flag at the State House has been arrested, officials say.
Stephen Loughman, 24, has been charged with breach of peace in the July 18 rallies in which multiple arrests were made, Sheriff Leon Lott said in a statement released Friday.
On the day of the protests, both Lott and a deputy witnessed Loughman willfully and unlawfully yelling profanity at crowds and attempting to charge at traffic in the roadways, Lott said. During the incident Loughman dropped his cell phone which was later used to positively identify him as one of the suspects in an ongoing investigation to identify those who had caused a disturbance.
Someone tweeting under the name Stephen Loughman (@thapuntiff) was very active on July 18, tweeting videos and statements from the SC State House grounds.
In addition, the investigation revealed that Loughman belongs to an anti-government group and has made a career out of traveling to states to create trouble, Lott said. Loughman has an arrest record that includes trespassing and similar charges.
Loughman attended the State House rallies “with the intent to instill violence and hate among the other attendees and with the ultimate goal of enticing riots to break out,” Lott said.
After Loughman returned to Virginia he came back to Columbia to collect his cell phone where he was arrested at the sheriff’s department headquarters on Monday.
Loughman was taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.