Arizona Mass Shooter Who Live-Streamed Attack Was a Self-Described 'Incel' Targeting Couples

The suspect allegedly told prosecutors he identifies as an involuntarily celibate, and was targeting couples when he opened fire at an Arizona mall.

by Trone Dowd
23 May 2020, 11:30am

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

The 20-year-old who live-streamed his vicious shooting spree in Glendale, Arizona, Wednesday night, carried out the attack over frustration with his self-described status as an “incel.”

Armando Hernandez allegedly told prosecutors that he identifies as an involuntarily celibate, and was targeting couples when he fired an assault rifle and injured three people — one critically — at Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District earlier this week.

During the suspect’s first court appearance, on Thursday, Maricopa County prosecutor Edward Leiter told a judge that the defendant is the latest self-pitying terrorist to take out his frustrations over his inability to court women by carrying out an act of violence and had contemplated doing so for the last three to four years.

"Mr. [Armando] Hernandez had the purpose of taking out his express anger at society, the feeling that he has been bullied, the feeling that women don't want him," Leiter said in court Thursday.

Leiter also detailed that while the suspect said he didn’t intend to kill anyone, he had every intention to cause injury to people at the mall with their significant others.

"He specifically was hoping to shoot at least 10 people," Leiter said, successfully making the case for bail to be set at $1 million. “He wanted these people to feel the pain that he feels on a daily basis. He suffers from extreme anger. He’s very open about the fact that he has a dark side, and his dark side was coming out.”

At approximately 7:25 PST on Wednesday, the suspect began to fire an AR-15 at shoppers in Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District. According to prosecutors, the suspect was pushed over the edge after realizing that both Panda Express and a local movie theater were closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He streamed the attack on Snapchat, and sent the feed to a woman he was interested in. At least one of the victims remains in critical condition from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Glendale shooting is the latest in a string of incidents where “incels,” or involuntary celibates, are turning to violence to vent their growing frustration with being rejected by women and society as a whole. The misogynist movement has gained significant steam in the last six years or so, and in extreme cases, have resulted in violence.

In 2018, a self-described incel drove a rented van into a crowded Toronto street, claiming that he hoped the attack would inspire a wave of killings by other sexually frustrated young men. Last year, VICE News reported that the driver was inspired by another incel who carried out acts of violence four years prior, and had used sites like Reddit and 4Chan to communicate with other like-minded individuals.

Earlier this year, a 17-year-old boy fatally stabbed a 24-year-old woman for the same reason and became the first person charged with carrying out an “incel”-based terrorist attack.

Since his arrest, Hernandez has been booked on a total of 14 charges, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, including five counts of discharging a firearm in city limits; three counts of aggravated assault resulting in serious physical injury; three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; and one count each of criminal damage, recklessly damaging utility property, and disorderly conduct with a weapon.

Cover: Mass shooting suspect Armando Hernandez told prosecutors he's an incel who was targeting couples. (Photo: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)