At first glance, 18-year-old Vincent Vetromile appeared to be a young man trying to better himself. He had earned the rank of Eagle Scout, and attended Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.
Online, though, Vetromile raged. 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.
Police in upstate New York arrested Vetromile and three other young men on Friday over what law enforcement officials allege was a plot to kill the residents of Islamberg, a small Muslim community in New York that’s become a frequent target of right-wing internet conspiracy theories. Vetromile, Brian Colaneri, 20, and Andrew Crysel, 18, were charged with conspiracy and criminal possession of a weapon. A fourth defendant, whose name hasn’t been released because he is under 18, was charged with the same crimes.
Police allegedly discovered Vetromile and the other suspects in possession of 23 legally owned rifles and shotguns, as well as makeshift bombs packed with nails and black powder.
The weapons cache was intended for the attack on the Muslim community, said Greece, New York, police chief Patrick Phelan in a press conference on Tuesday. Police said they were tipped off to the alleged plot last week, after a student at Greece Odyssey Academy in Greece, New York, showed a picture of one of the suspects around the lunchroom, asking classmates whether he looked like a school shooter. Another student reported the remark to police, who used the tip to uncover the Islamberg plot, authorities said. Police have not said how they surmised the suspects specifically targeted Islamberg.
There was one question Phelan said he didn’t have an answer for: how Vetromile and the other defendants had gone from the Boy Scouts to allegedly planning to massacre Muslims.
Online, though, Vetromile made no secret about his violent goals. In social media posts reviewed by The Daily Beast, he also repeated popular right-wing talking points and conspiracy theories, and praised Trump.
Much of Vetromile’s social media activity was devoted to raging about Muslims, calling Muslim immigrants “rapefugees,” and arguing that there was “a good reason to get rid of all Muslims.”
While Vetromile didn’t mention Islamberg specifically on social media, he wrote that he even wanted Muslim children to die.
“Kids have been shown to be terrorists too and have killed our people,” Vetromile wrote on Twitter. “The Koran tells them to kill us so they’re all GUILTY.”
Vetromile’s comments about killing Muslim children echo an earlier plot against Islamberg, a community of roughly 200 people created in the 1980s that has become a focal point for internet conspiracy theories about Muslim groups.
In 2017, a Tennessee man was sentenced to prison for a separate plot to burn down Islamberg’s mosque. Evidence in the case showed that he had been willing to kill children, calling them “collateral damage.”
Vetromile was an avid Trump supporter online, frequently calling for “Crooked Hillary” Clinton to be arrested and urging his followers to watch out for Democratic voter fraud schemes when they cast their ballots for Trump in 2016.
Vetromile even invited Trump to his Eagle Scout ceremony, and tweeted his disappointment when the president didn’t show up.
“Dear @POTUS , I invited you to my Eagle Scout ceremony weeks ago, it was tonight,” Vetromile tweeted in 2017. “Wish you had come but I get you’re busy. Thanks for MAGA.”
Vetromile also called for the construction of Trump’s proposed border wall, saying people who immigrate illegally should be shot and comparing it to the videogame Minecraft.
“Anyone who’s played Minecraft knows if you want to keep out people who want to hurt you, shoot you, or blow themselves up, you build a wall and anyone who gets over/under/around the wall illegally you kill until nobody else crosses into your land,” Vetromile tweeted.
Vetromile appeared to become disillusioned with Trump in December, after the Trump administration moved to ban the bump stock gun accessories used in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre. Angry at Trump, Vetromile tweeted a demand for “REVOLUTION NOW.”
Vetromile embraced right-wing conspiracy theories, tweeting a doctored birth certificate meant to prove Barack Obama was born in Kenya and claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.
Vetromile shared a YouTube channel called “Rebel Crysel” with Crysel, another defendant in the bombing plot case. (Vetromile shows his face on the “Rebel Crysel” YouTube account, where he introduces himself as “Robert Brutman,” and is filmed next to a house that matches his address listed on police documents.) In a room decorated with flags, including a Confederate Flag, the Gadsden flag favored by members of the Tea Party, and a “Thin Blue Line” flag meant to show support for police, Vetromile introduced himself to viewers with the alias “Robert Brutman” as he reviewed guns.
But it was on Instagram and Twitter, under the handle “xxRebel1xx,” where Vetromile made his violent politics most explicit. (The “xxRebel1xx” Instagram page includes a photograph of Vetromile wearing a shirt he also wears on the YouTube channel. His Twitter account with the same screen-name includes a young picture of Vetromile, as well as references to living in the Rochester area, and the same picture of a Revolutionary War soldier with an AR-15. Vetromile also tweeted about his Eagle Scout process in the spring of 2017, when public records show that Vetromile did become an Eagle Scout.
“Looking to start a resistance faction in Rochester ny,” Vetromile wrote in one Instagram caption in mid-2016, posting an illustration of a Revolutionary War soldier carrying an AR-15 rifle.
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.”
Vetromile’s Twitter account, which included nearly 50,000 tweets, was active until his arrest last week. It’s since gone silent.
In a statement, Muslims of America, the organization that operates Islamberg, thanked law enforcement and the student who originally tipped off police.
“It is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate and religious intolerance,” the statement reads. “To bring justice and properly deter similar terrorist plots against our community, we are calling for the individuals charged, as well as their accomplices, to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will follow these proceedings closely.”