A Colorado man who raged online about his virginity threatened to kill “as many girls as I see,” leading police to fear he was targeting a nearby Women’s March event.
Christopher Cleary, 27, was arrested Saturday after writing a long Facebook diatribe about being a virgin and wanting to become “the next mass shooter.” Cleary told police he was just venting, but he was already on probation from a 2018 conviction for stalking and making a repeated communication of domestic violence. And a series of murderous young men who call themselves “incels” (“involuntarily celibate”) have recently used singledom as an excuse for deadly attacks on women.
Cleary traveled to Provo, Utah and checked into an AirBnB on January 18, the day before the city’s planned Women’s March, according to Denver’s ABC7. Late that night, his Facebook friends started calling police to report a series of threatening posts he allegedly authored.
“All I wanted was a girlfriend, not 1000… not a bunch of hoes,” Cleary allegedly wrote. “I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the turned me down is going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.” He allegedly added that “there’s nothing more dangerous than man ready to die.”
Police traced his phone and arrested him the morning of the march at a Provo McDonald’s. Cleary told police that he had an impulse disorder, and that he had been upset when he authored the posts, according to police.
But it wasn’t his first or even second scrape with the law. At the time of his Saturday arrest, he was less than a year into a three-year probation for felony stalking, according to court records reviewed by The Daily Beast. He pleaded guilty to a similar felony stalking charge in 2016. In a case stemming from a 2015 arrest, he was charged with posting a private image for harassment, posting a private image for monetary gain, harassment by striking or kicking a person, and harassment by repeated phone calls. He pleaded guilty to the final charge, and the former were dismissed.
He pleaded guilty to making threats and causing “disturbances via phone” in 2013, and assault in 2009.
Had he carried out an attack, Cleary would have been the latest in a series of men to murder women for refusing to date him. In 2014, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger opened fire on students at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rodger was highly active in a misogynistic internet community of young men who felt jilted by women. In YouTube videos and manifestos, Rodger described murdering women as “retribution” for their lack of interest in him. He murdered six people and injured another 14 before shooting himself to death.
Since the massacre, men who share Rodgers’ hatred of women and sense of rejection have coalesced into a more-defined internet movement. The group call themselves “incels” and promotes violent misogyny. Cleary wrote in language similar to that of incel forums, although his belonging to the group is subject to debate.
The term “incel” originated with a liberal blogger, who wrote about normalizing virginity, particularly for people who were isolated from the dating world for reasons of disability or sexual orientation. Cleary fit those broad terms of a person who wished to have sex, but remained a virgin. But the modern incel culture has morphed into a more explicit ideology of male supremacy, which does not apply to every adult virgin. It’s an opt-in culture, one that shares Cleary’s apparent rage at virginity, although he is not reported to have shared content from incel sites.
Try as they may to blame their woes on women, forum-goers brutally criticize each others’ appearances, convincing each other that they’ll never find a date, Vice reported last year. In a survey of 300 users on a major incel forum, more than half of respondents said they’d considered plastic surgery. Loneliness (only 36.7 percent of respondents said they had friends) and general hatred of humanity (52.9 percent of respondents self-identified as misanthropes) are standard. More than half of respondents were white, and almost all of them under 30 years old.
Other killers appear to have traveled in those digital circles. A man accused of killing 10 people and injuring 16 more in a 2018 van attack in Toronto allegedly glorified Rodgers on Facebook. Another man accused of killing two women in a Florida yoga studio in November uploaded YouTube videos calling women “whores” and promoting Rodgers.
Cleary’s apparent absence from incel forums hasn’t stopped them from glamorizing his alleged murder plot, or talking about recruiting him.
“I hope someone tells him about this site,” one incel forum user wrote.