The toxic plague of red-pilled young men inspired by insane conspiracy theories to commit horrifying acts of mass murder and random violence is now reaching a fever stage: In the past month alone, there have been 11 separate incidents involving such plots, including three acts of mass violence and eight would-be mass killings caught in the planning stages.
In addition to the mass murders in Gilroy, Califorinia, and El Paso, Texas, as well as the serial killings by two young red-pilled Canadians, police in localities spread around the United States have arrested men planning to commit mass killings in seven different incidents. A CNN report found a total of 27 arrests for making threats in the wake of those killings, though only six of these involved actual plots to murder people.
The majority of these arrests have occurred in rapid succession since the El Paso massacre, suggesting once again that the murder plots are being inspired by each other sequentially.
- Joseph Rubino, a 57-year-old New Jersey man, was arrested July 25 for possessing a large armament of weapons and ammunition (as well as drugs) after he was involved in an automobile accident and police found multiple assault weapons. When they went to his home, they found a grenade launcher and more semi-automatic rifles, along with Nazi memorabilia and white-supremacist literature.
- Conor Climo, a 23-year-old from Las Vegas, was arrested Aug. 8 and charged with possession of bomb parts, part of a larger plot to attack a synagogue with sniper rifles in order to murder large numbers of Jews. Climo, authorities said, was deeply involved in online white-supremacist organizations, including AtomWaffen SS, a notorious neo-Nazi group already linked to multiple murders. He also reportedly intended to attack an LGBTQ bar.
- Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old from Boardman, Ohio, was arrested Aug. 7 in connection with his threats online to commit an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic. After telling FBI agents that the posts were only intended as a joke, a search of his home uncovered 15 rifles, including assault weapons, and some 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
- Brandon Wagshol, 22, of Norwalk, Connecticut, was arrested Aug. 15 and charged with illegally possessing large-capacity gun magazines, after he had posted on Facebook about his desire to commit a mass shooting. Police said he had acquired the parts for building an automatic rifle capable of firing hundreds of rounds. Wagshol posted selfies dressed in body armor, and had frequently voiced racist and anti-transgender comments.
- Tristan Scott Wix, a 25-year-old from Daytona Beach, Florida, was arrested Aug. 16 after his girlfriend notified authorities that he had sent her a number of texts threatening to carry out a mass killing aimed at local schools. He fantasized about committing the killings with a long-range sniper rifle, and expressed his desire to set various records for such murders, including a wish to kill someone from over three miles away, as well as to kill 100 people in the slaughter.
- James P. Reardon, 20, of New Middletown, Ohio, was arrested Aug. 17 by local police and charged with harassment and aggravated menacing after he posted a video fantasizing about being the shooter at a mass murder in a local Jewish community center. Authorities found a cache of weapons and ammunition at his home, along with anti-Semitic propaganda. A local TV station reported that in addition to identifying as a white nationalist, Reardon had participated in the deadly “Unite the Right” protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.
- Thomas M. McVicker, a 38-year-old truck driver from rural Alabama, was arrested Aug. 20 after a friend reported him to police for allegedly planning to conduct a mass shooting at a church in Memphis, Tennessee. McVicker had arranged for the time off from work and had told his employer he would be in Memphis; the friend told police he “intended to take his knife and slit the pastor's throat.”
- Eric P. Lin, a 35-year-old Maryland man living in Florida, was arrested Aug. 20 by FBI agents in Seattle and charged with making threats to kill “all Hispanics in Florida” and foment a “race war.” Authorities said his social-media posts indicated a deep admiration for Adolf Hitler, as well as Donald Trump. “I Thank God everyday President Donald John Trump is President and that he will launch a Racial War and Crusade to keep the (expletives and racial slurs) and any dangerous non-White or Ethnically or Culturally Foreign group ‘In Line,'” he wrote.
Details of the arrests indicate that conspiracy theories played a major role in most of the plots, underscoring the toxic effect of the spread of these falsified versions of reality through the Internet. In particular, they suggest the spread of so-called “incel” (portmanteau for “involuntary celibate”) bloc of the right-wing men’s rights movement, especially the “black-pilled” component of the movement that emphasizes a fatalistic and often suicidal approach to the participants’ personal issues.
Several of the cases also make clear that the “gamification” of mass murder—in which killers are awarded scores by their online spectators, depending on the numbers of people killed and the difficulty of the target—is gaining traction among far-right online radicals and manifesting itself in a sequence of would-be imitators.
However, the spate of pre-emptive arrests in these incidents also suggests that both the public and law enforcement are now more attuned to the growing risk of domestic terrorism and are responding with greater responsiveness to potential threats.
“This is the new normal,” Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism told The Guardian. “The people most able to thwart these attacks are often not law enforcement, but those closest to them—friends, family, coworkers and fellow students … We’re not dealing with foreign-based terrorists, but the mass killer down the block.”