Utah woman describes ‘horror’ at seeing her stepson detained and beaten after attempted coup in DRC

Authorities said Tyler Thompson of Utah was arrested in the attempted coup.

The family of a US citizen arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a failed coup attempt said on Sunday they were surprised to hear of his arrest in connection with the attack near the presidential palace in Kinshasa.

Miranda Thompson told ABC News that her stepson Tyler Thompson, who grew up in West Jordan, Utah, traveled to South Africa last month on what he said would be a vacation with the family of his close friend Marcel Malanga.

Thompson said that when she saw the images of her stepson being detained and beaten by Congolese soldiers, she was in “complete and utter shock.”

“It doesn’t seem real,” she said.

Thompson described her stepson as a happy, loving young man who grew up playing soccer and dreamed of one day building and flipping houses. She added that before this trip, the 21-year-old had never traveled on a plane alone.

“He’s a child,” she said. “He’s in a place where he doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t know the language. He should be terrified.”

Tyler Thompson was named on Tuesday by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s military spokesman, who mistakenly called him Taylor Thompson. He was arrested alongside Marcel Malanga and another American citizen, Benjamin Rubin Zalman Boulon, according to Congolese officials. Christian Malanga, Marcel’s father, who allegedly led the coup attempt last weekend, was reportedly killed in a shootout with Congolese authorities.

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Another American citizen was wrongly accused of involvement in the coup attempt. Cole Patrick Ducey, an engineer who lives in Eswatini, told ABC News on Monday that he was not involved, despite reports online and in the media. DRC government officials also confirmed to ABC News that Ducey was not involved in the attempted coup over the weekend.

Miranda Thompson said that after Tyler traveled to Johannesburg in mid-April, he traveled with Marcel and his father, Christian Malanga, to Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland.

“From our understanding, the trip was to visit family, and that’s all we know,” she said.

Thompson said Tyler informed his family there that his vacation with the Malanga family had been cut short by a bout of malaria, but Christian Malanga offered to finance an extension of the trip to make up for the lost time.

But Miranda Thompson said Tyler’s family was unaware of any plans to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and that the events of May 19 seemed completely out of sync with the young man she had co-raised for a decade alongside her husband and Tyler’s mother and stepfather.

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“He’s a great kid. He’s so loving and kind. He’s the best big brother ever,” she said.

When asked if she had a message for Tyler, Miranda Thompson said: “We love you. We’re here to help in any way we can. We just want you to come home.”

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