2 Fort Myer Soldiers Arrested and Charged with Stealing LGBTQ+ Pride Flags from House Beside Base

This image from a Ring home-security system shows a suspect taking a Pride flag from a homeowner's porch.
This image from a Ring home-security system shows a suspect taking a Pride flag from a homeowner's porch. (Image courtesy of the homeowner)

Two soldiers were arrested Friday and accused of stealing LGBTQ+ Pride flags at least three times from a house just outside the gates of Fort Myer, Virginia.

Local authorities with Arlington County announced the arrest of Spc. Matthew Henshaw, 20, and Pfc. Joseph Digregorio, 23. Both soldiers are with the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard, the Army's premier ceremonial unit tasked with burials at Arlington National Cemetery.

The two were arrested after an investigation into a series of thefts targeting the house from September to January. The Pride flag is a universal symbol used by gay, lesbian, transgender and other people to show pride and support of related social movements. Some of the alleged thefts were captured on video, which was reviewed by Military.com.

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Michelle Logan lives with her girlfriend at the house where police say the suspects stole the flags. She said five flags were taken since September, with three of the incidents captured on her Ring security camera.

"We know that, in Arlington, there are a lot of queer people and allies in the area," she told Military.com in an interview. "But it's still really hard to fit in when you're queer, and this was a stark reminder for us."

Military.com reviewed Logan's Ring security footage and saw at least three instances of a man snatching the pride flag and then quickly running away. Those incidents took place between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.; in two of them, the suspect was wearing a cowboy hat.

Police say Henshaw was charged with three counts of "unlawful entry -- bias motivated," which according to Virginia law is when a person intentionally selects a property based on someone's identity, such as race, gender or sexual orientation.

Each misdemeanor count carries up to 12 months in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. Henshaw faces three additional counts of petit larceny, which carries the same penalty.

Digregorio was charged with one count of petit larceny for one of the incidents that occurred Jan. 21.

Both soldiers have been released from jail. It was unclear as of Tuesday whether they have hired lawyers, or if the pair will face any military judicial or administrative punishments.

Military.com could not reach either for comment ahead of publication.

"As this remains an active investigation, it would be too early to speculate on what repercussions the soldiers might face," Bernhard Lashleyleidner, a service spokesperson, told Military.com in a statement. "We recognize the value of diversity and equality, and the actions of those involved do not represent the values and character of The Old Guard or our Army.

"We will continue to work with the Arlington County Police Department throughout this ongoing investigation," he said.

For Logan, there was a positive outcome to the incidents, she said. Close to a dozen neighbors are now flying Pride flags to show solidarity after the soldiers were arrested.

"We're calling it Rainbow Road now," she said.

-- Patricia Kime contributed to this report. 

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