‘Incel’ Sought Fort Benning Training in Plot to Slaughter Women at an Ohio School, Feds Say

Sign at Fort Benning (U.S. Army)

A Fort Benning basic trainee washout stockpiled arms, ammunition and sought military training in a plot to commit mass murder in Ohio and murder as many women as possible, a federal indictment alleges. 

Tres Genco, 21, was arrested Wednesday on one charge of attempting to commit a hate crime, which is punishable by up to a life sentence, and one count of illegally possessing a machine gun, which is punishable by up to 10 years, according to the Department of Justice. 

Genco is a self-identified “incel” or “involuntarily celibate,” according to his indictment. Incels congregate online and are predominantly men who harbor hatred toward women, believing women “unjustly deny them sexual or romantic attention to which they believe they are entitled,” prosecutors say. 

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In January 2019, Genco purchased tactical gloves, body armor, a hoodie with the word “revenge” on it, cargo pants, a bowie knife and a skull facemask, investigators say. The following two months, he purchased a rifle and multiple magazines for a Glock 17 along with a concealed carry holster. 

That August, he allegedly researched differences between fully and semi-automatic weapons, modifications for M-16s and how to make homemade flash grenades, which create a blinding flash of deafening noise meant to disorient and stun people. Those grenades are often used by law enforcement and the military to toss into a room of potential combatants before entering. 

He also researched sororities at the school he was targeting, the indictment said. Prosecutors did not specify which university Genco planned to attack. However, he later researched how to listen to Columbus police radio traffic. Columbus is home to The Ohio State University, one of the largest schools in the country with a 60,000-student body. Genco lived in Hillsboro, Ohio, which is halfway between Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati. 

Also in August, he went to basic training at Fort Benning, the home of the Army’s combat arms, including infantry and cavalry scouts. There, he hoped to obtain military skills that would aid in a mass slaughter of women, according to the indictment. Ahead of shipping out, prosecutors say he wrote a manifesto outlining a hatred toward women and how he would use Army training to execute a murder spree. 

“I would hope these words resonate in sweet familiarity to fellow incels, either cognizant of their situation or not,” Genco wrote in a document just before leaving for Fort Benning, according to his indictment.  “I am already set to go into the U.S. Army… 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. I will slaughter out of jealousy, hatred, and revenge.”

That same summer, prosecutors say he wrote another note seemingly outlining a date for an attack and a goal of killing thousands of women, using an M-16 and training he would acquire at Fort Benning. 

In December 2019, Genco was discharged from the military for “entry-level performance and conduct,” according to the indictment. It’s unclear what the details behind the discharge are. A Fort Benning spokesperson said the base would not be able to provide details on Genco’s discharge before publication.

Kristofer Goldsmith, an Army veteran and CEO of Sparverius, an intelligence firm that researches online extremism and disinformation campaigns, said incels and violent extremists might be drawn to the military as a means of training for an attack and to appear more attractive to women. 

“He was explicit in his manifesto. He was seeking the training,” Goldsmith told Military.com. “But he might also see military men as being able to get women. He saw this as a transactional thing.”

Basic training alone only briefly goes over combat skills at a very broad and elementary level. But Goldsmith says people outside the military might have artificially high expectations about how well the training might prepare someone for a gunfight. New enlistees often don’t get complex training until they arrive at their assigned unit. 

“What many imagine basic training is [is] not what it is,” Goldsmith said. “This guy washed out for a reason. Thankfully, he washed out there and never got into a unit where he learned concepts like covering fire, room clearing … when you get to that level, you are learning how to engage with police potentially.”

On March 12, 2020, his mother called police, saying Genco was acting in a threatening way, Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins told Military.com. According to court records, Genco locked himself in his bedroom with a gun. 

A person identified as “Individual 1” in court records says Genco had become “erratic and somewhat violent over the past several months.” Genco eventually surrendered to police without incident. 

In the trunk of Genco’s car, police found a 5.56mm rifle, the same caliber of ammunition used by the military, several loaded magazines, body armor and four boxes of additional ammunition. 

Inside the home, police found a Glock 9mm pistol with no manufacturer’s marks or serial number hidden in a heating vent. Neither of his weapons were registered, according to court filings, which is not a crime in Ohio.  

The rifle was equipped with a bump stock, which accelerates the rate of fire, effectively giving it the function similar to a machine gun. Rifles, especially ones civilians can purchase easily, are semi-automatic weapons, meaning every trigger squeeze fires a single bullet. However, with a bump stock, the weapon could operate as fully automatic, meaning it will continue to fire rounds as long as the shooter is squeezing the trigger which could be devastating against a crowd. Yet the accuracy is greatly reduced. 

Genco was charged with making “terroristic threats,” according to Collins. He was charged in October 2020 and sentenced to 17 months in jail, a month short of the maximum sentence. He was given credit for the seven months he spent in jail during proceedings and was released in February. 

With the firearms, Collins said he didn’t break any laws. “He did not have a felony and was a legal firearm owner,” she said. However, owning a bump stock is a felony. She said she contacted federal law enforcement but never heard back. 

“Feds weren’t interested,” Collins said. “They initially wanted to put him on a watch list.” It’s unclear if Genco was ever put on a watch list. A spokesperson with the Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.

Given Genco was free for five months, she said she’s shocked that it took such a long time for federal law enforcement to bring charges. 

Genco’s second arrest comes as the military and Congress are more closely looking at extremism in the ranks and whether individuals who hold fringe beliefs are attracted to service. Next week, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the involvement and recruitment of veterans in extremist groups and fringe ideologies. 

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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