Weeks after Tres Genco returned to Ohio after being kicked out of Army basic training last January, federal investigators say he penned a letter with a chilling warning.
“If you’re reading this, I’ve done something horrible,” Genco, now 21, wrote in the document entitled “isolated,” according to court documents. “Somehow you’ve come across the writings of the deluded and homicidal.”
He signed the letter, “Your hopeful friend and murderer.”
Four days later, Genco searched online for “planning a shooting crime,” prosecutors said, and drove to an unnamed university in Ohio to scope out the campus, where he was allegedly planning to shoot students in sororities. His goal, investigators say, was to kill as many as 3,000 people.
Law enforcement arrested Genco at his home in Hillsboro, Ohio, on Wednesday and charged him with attempting to conduct a mass shooting of women — a hate crime — and illegally possessing a machine gun.
Genco’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.
Genco self-identified as an “incel” or “involuntary celibate,” an online movement made up of predominantly white men who “seek to commit violence in support of their belief that women unjustly deny them sexual or romantic attention to which they believe they are entitled,” prosecutors said.
The group gained national attention in May 2014 when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger used guns, a knife and his car to kill six people and injure 13 others in the Isla Vista neighborhood near Santa Barbara, Calif. Two of the victims had been walking by a sorority house at the University of California at Santa Barbara when he opened fire. Rodger fatally shot himself after the attack.
Rodger’s actions inspired similar attacks from other self-proclaimed incels. In 2015, a 26-year-old student at an Oregon community college fatally shot nine people and wounded seven others before he was killed in a shootout with police. He mentioned Rodger in a racist manifesto where he lamented that he was a virgin with no girlfriend.
In 2018, a then-25-year-old man also claiming to be an incel rammed a van into a crowd of pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10. He was found guilty in March and faces a life sentence.
Genco openly expressed his admiration for Rodger online, prosecutors said. From July 2019 through March 2020, Genco actively used popular incel websites, where he posted that he felt “spiritually connected” to Rodger and called him a “saint.” Genco said he was inspired to follow Rodger’s example, specifically noting an incident in 2012 when Rodger sprayed a group of college kids at a park with orange juice from a water gun. Genco said he did the same, but to a group of women, court documents said.
“I suggest it to all incels,” Genco wrote, according to the indictment, “extremely empowering action.”
Over the span of five months in 2019, Genco purchased “two factory Glock 17 magazines and [a] 9mm Glock 17 clip,” prosecutors said. He also allegedly got tactical gloves, a bulletproof vest and a Bowie knife, often used for hunting or in combat.
In the summer of 2019, Genco wrote down the name of an Ohio university and a list that appeared to refer to plans for an attack on May 23, 2020. The note referenced weapons and a “KC,” or kill count, of potentially 3,000 people, according to court documents.
On Aug. 3, 2019, Genco wrote a manifesto entitled “A Hideous Symphony” by “Tres Genco, the socially exiled incel,” in which he explained why he signed up for Army training camp.
“This training will be for the attainment of one reality, the death of what I have been deprived most, but also cherish and fantasize at the opportunity of having but has been neglected of: Women,” he wrote, according to court documents. “I will slaughter out of jealousy, hatred, and revenge.”
Later that day, Genco allegedly conducted an online search for sororities and the university in Ohio. Other online searches in August 2019 showed he “researched gun modifications and saved illustrated guides to constructing M-16s,” information on Rodger and a homemade stun grenade.
He left for boot camp in Georgia later that month but never finished. He returned to Ohio in December 2019 after being discharged for conduct and performance issues, according to court documents.
On March 11, 2020, Genco allegedly searched online for police scanner codes for Columbus, Ohio, police and university police.
The next day, an informant identified as “Individual-1” in court documents called the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and reported that Genco was making threats and “locked himself out of his bedroom with a gun,” the affidavit said.
The informant told law enforcement that Genco had “become erratic and somewhat violent over the past several months” and warned that Genco was “planning to hurt someone.”
Officers soon arrived at Genco’s home and arrested him.
Police then searched Genco’s home and car. In his trunk, law enforcement found a firearm with a bump stock attached, several loaded magazines, some boxes of ammunition and body armor. Police also found a semiautomatic pistol with no serial number or manufacturer’s mark hidden in a heating vent in Genco’s bedroom.
Genco is due in court on Friday. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years for the machine gun charge and up to life in prison for the attempted hate crime.