Incel’s Mass Shooting Foiled—Shooter Was “Aiming Big” with Goal of 3,000 Victims

21-year-old Tres Genco a self-proclaimed incel, aligned himself with the 2014 Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger. (Jo Naylor / Creative Commons)

On July 21, a federal grand jury charged an Ohio man with illegally possessing a machine gun and attempting to commit a hate crime. 21-year-old Tres Genco, a self-proclaimed incel (“involuntary celibate”) had been planning to open fire at a sorority at an unnamed nearby university. He drew inspiration from Elliot Rodger, specifically planning his massacre to fall on the seventh anniversary of the incel killer’s “day of retribution” in Isla Vista, Calif., in which he killed six people and injured 14 as part of what he himself called a “war on women.”

In documents recovered from Genco’s home, his goal for the number of people he wanted to kill was revealed: 3,000. If successful, the attack would have dwarfed the Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas shootings combined. A manifesto also found in Genco’s home, dated August 2019, said he would “slaughter” women “out of hatred, jealousy and revenge” and “take away the power of life that they withhold from me,” according to court documents. 

The philosophy of the incel is a confusing and contradictory one. They despise women, but at the same time covet their affection and companionship. By this logic, it would seem that incels see value in women because they acknowledge the ways ‘having a girlfriend’ would increase their quality of life. However, this is an idea that incels intensely refute, from their forums to their police interrogations. In their minds, women are vapid, mindless airheads who offer no value to society beyond the sexual marketplace.

An article in the New Yorker, written by Jia Tolentino, sums up this philosophy well: “Incels aren’t really looking for sex. They’re looking for absolute male supremacy.” 

Genco had reportedly been active on some of the popular incel forums where these beliefs circulate, though the names of the websites have not been released by Ohio police. 

Paying Homage to Elliot Rodger 

“If I can’t have you girls, I will destroy you.”

This was one of the last things Rodger said in his video manifesto before killing seven people including himself in Isla Vista, Calif., along sorority row at the University of California Santa Barbara.

The son of one of the Hunger Games directors, Peter Rodger, Elliot Rodger was raised in the English countryside and had what most report to be a normal upbringing. But he was obsessed with social status: Though he bragged about his global travels and family lineage, especially his father’s background, Rodger admitted he was lonely, and believed he still wasn’t wealthy or attractive enough to get the attention of the girls at his expensive private school. He targeted sorority row because he couldn’t “get the attention” of the women who lived there or, by his own admission, any woman at all. 

In his video manifesto—now taken down—Rodger outlines in detail his motivation for the shooting:

“You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime because I don’t know what you don’t see in me, I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it.

“On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house at UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I’ve desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance toward them, while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.

“I take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you., You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male. [laughs] Yes, after I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house, I’ll take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there. All those popular kids who live such lives of hedonistic pleasure while I’ve had to rot in loneliness all these years. They all look down upon me every time I tried to join them, they’ve all treated me like a mouse. …

“You forced me to suffer all my life, now I will make you all suffer. I waited a long time for this. I’ll give you exactly what you deserve, all of you. All you girls who rejected me, looked down upon me, you know, treated me like scum while you gave yourselves to other men. And all of you men for living a better life than me, all of you sexually active men. I hate you. I hate all of you. I can’t wait to give you exactly what you deserve, annihilation.”

This act of violence has been cited by nearly every self-identified incel criminal since, claiming that Rodger was the messiah, the man who had started the revolution.

Male students at a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event—an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender-based violence. (University of Central Arkansas / Creative Commons)

Incel Origins

The term incel comes from a Canadian woman’s blog in the 1990’s. The woman, Alana (who does not publicly share her last name), started a website called ‘Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project’ in her mid-20s where people who couldn’t find love could meet, with two of those people eventually getting married.

Alana’s term has since been claimed by a relatively new group of digital misogynists, who not only have their own set of core beliefs but also their own intensely anti-woman language. 

“The word [incel] used to mean anybody of any gender who was lonely, had never had sex or who hadn’t had a relationship in a long time,” Alana told the BBC in 2018. “But we can’t call it that anymore.”

Incel Language

For the non-indoctrinated, incels divide humanity up by both gender and outward appearance—but consider themeslves the smartest and most aware subset of people.

  • ‘Chads’ are men who are tall, masculine and engage in regular sexual activity, without having romantic connections to their sexual partners. The ‘Chads’ are the incels’ greatest enemy—the epitome of everything they can’t be. 
  • ‘Staceys’ are the women that the ‘Chads’ date and have sex with, and are defined by their hyperfeminity and attractiveness. 
  • ‘Beckys,’ on the other hand, are what incels define as the ‘average’ woman, and who will always aim for the more attractive man available, and never the man who is below her on the incel “attractiveness scale.” Incels themselves attribute their inability to find love to a variety of physical attributes, from height to race to bone structure.

In the case of Genco, prosecutors say he is facing life in prison for attempting to commit a hate crime. In the count of illegally possessing a machine gun, Genco faces an additional 10 years.

“Whether in the streets or in our homes, in front of women’s reproductive health clinics or in the halls of government, whether online or in person,” wrote Carrie Baker for Ms., “we must finally start taking misogyny seriously, in word and in deed.”

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Ramona Flores is an editorial fellow with Ms. and is completing her undergraduate studies at Smith College, with a double major in government and the study of women and gender. Her academic focuses include Marxist feminism, transnational collective organizing and queer history. Her writing covers internet subcultures, reproductive care advocacy and queer theory. She hails from Austin, Texas.