The deterioration of America’s culture wars into actual physical violence was at least temporarily averted when police in upstate New York arrested four young men this weekend who had amassed a hoard of weapons and were planning to murder the residents of the small Muslim community of Islamberg in the Catskill Mountains.
Today, to little surprise, it was disclosed that at least one of the four plotters — who all lived far from Islamberg near Rochester — was a right-wing troll and a major Trump supporter who had actually invited the president to his Eagle Scout graduation ceremony.
The former scout, 18-year-old Vincent Vetromile, was arrested and charged with conspiracy and criminal possession of a weapon — along with Brian Colaneri, 20, and Andrew Crysel, 18, and another defendant whose name was withheld because of his age — after a tip to police led to the discovery of the plot and 23 legally owned rifles and shotguns, as well as homemade bombs packed with nails and black powder.
The tip came after a student at Greece Odyssey Academy in Greece, New York, passed a picture of one of the suspects to his classmates in the school cafeteria last week and asked whether they thought he would be the next school shooter.
Another student was smart enough to report the comment to the police, who subsequently investigated and discovered the weapons cache and the anti-Muslim plot.
The Daily Beast did a deep dive into the social media account of Vetromile, a student at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York and discovered a portrait of a young man consumed by vitriol and hatred.
“He called for a revolution against “the liberal/Muslim horde,” claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and called for the mass murder of Muslims. “KILL THEM ALL and nobody will be left to attack us,” Vetromile tweeted about Muslims in 2016,” The Daily Beast writes.
A good portion of the Trump-loving plotter’s social media commentary was dedicated to attacking Muslim immigrants, calling them “rapefugees,” and claiming that there was “a good reason to get rid of all Muslims.” His loathing towards Islamic refugees even extended towards children.
“Kids have been shown to be terrorists too and have killed our people,” Vetromile wrote in one Twitter post. “The Koran tells them to kill us so they’re all GUILTY.”
Embracing every right-wing conspiracy theory he came across, Vetromile filled his Twitter and Instagram accounts with articles and memes from extremist far-right publications.
According to The Daily Beast:
“Vetromile explained that he wanted to create a movement to fight ‘cruelties and mistreatment of the general populace by government.'”
“He also raged about protesters and city governments dismantling Confederate statues, posting pictures of Confederate flag-themed merchandise and claiming that ‘technically…[the Union] did not win the war.’”
“Vetromile called for violence against other groups, too. He frequently targeted left-wing anti-fascist activists, tweeting that he’d ‘love’ to see someone ‘mowing ‘em down.’”
“’If they want a war, give it to them,’ he tweeted. ‘After a few of them get some new holes, their whole ‘army’ will fall apart.’”
For this radicalized teen and his accomplices, violence against anyone unlike themselves was as thought and consequence-free as playing a video game. Now that their conspiracy for mass murder against an entire community of innocent people has been uncovered and thwarted, things have gotten very real for them for the first time.
At least social media will have one less extremist voice spreading hatred once Vetromile and his violent pals are punished for their crimes and put in prison for a long time to come.
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Original reporting by Will Sommer at The Daily Beast.