‘Incel’ planned attack at Florida event, FBI says

Southeast

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Texas man whom authorities say identifies as an incel and who has alleged ties to the white nationalist movements, was arrested after federal agents were tipped off to a social media post indicating he planned to attack an event for conservative students in Tampa last month.

Federal anti-terrorism investigators allege Alejandro Velasquez, 19, threatened “retribution” against attendees of the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit and made plans to travel to Tampa to carry it out. Velasquez, known as “LatinoZoomer” online, was also arrested for child pornography after images of prepubescent children being exploited by adults were allegedly found on his phone.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the FBI‘s Joint Terrorism Taskforce on Aug. 11, Velasquez posted a screenshot of a Discord message to his Instagram account that said, “July 22 is the day of retribution the day I will have revenge against all humanity which all of you will pay for my suffering. (Student Action Summit) will be the turning point of the LatinoZoomer lore (gun emoji).”

The post also included a picture of Velasquez that the FBI said matched to his driver’s license photo. A screenshot of the Instagram post indicated the caption was later edited to say, “This ain’t a serious post I love people!!!”

The complaint compared the wording used in the post to the video filmed by mass shooter Elliot Rodger before he killed six people and injured several more in 2014. Rodger has posthumously become an icon of the “incel” ideology, which centers around “extreme hatred” of women and sexually active men, according to the FBI. The ideology has since been linked to numerous attacks carried out by young men.

The Tampa Police Department learned of Velasquez’s social media post on July 18 and determined it was “a credible threat against participants attending the SAS conference.” They obtained an arrest warrant for Velasquez on July 21.

The complaint said Velasquez purchased a ticket for an American Airlines flight from Austin to Tampa on July 22, but canceled it the night before. Law enforcement in San Antonio arrested Velasquez on July 22 for the Tampa warrant, which accused him of “written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.” Velasquez’s phone was seized and sent to the FBI, where agents said they found a screenshot containing three images of child pornography.

According to a San Antonio Express-News report, Velasquez may have been motivated to plan the attack by his support of the white nationalist America First group and its founder, Nick Fuentes. Turning Point USA excluded Fuentes and attempted to ban his followers, known as “Groypers,” from their event last year. 

Since the arrest, Fuentes has denied any formal affiliation between Velasquez and America First, stating in a Telegram post, “Claims on social media that he was part of our team in any way are completely untrue.” Fuentes acknowledged that their paths crossed at CPAC last year, but said Velasquez had “nothing to do with” him or his organization. 

The Student Action Summit attracted the attention of other white supremacists, who were seen flying the Florida state and “DeSantis Country” flags alongside Nazi iconography and anti-Semitic symbols outside of the event. Turning Point USA said they were not affiliated with their organization, and calls for Gov. Ron DeSantis to denounce the display later went unanswered.

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