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Prosecutor: Driver accused of targeting religious group in Billings claimed they were 'terrorists'

Prosecutors say woman drank two bottles of liquor before alleged attack
'It was chaos': Witness recounts seeing group driven through in downtown Billings
Posted at 10:08 AM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 12:08:17-05

BILLINGS - The woman accused ofdriving a vehicle into a religious group Saturday in downtown Billings told police she intentionally drove at them after drinking two bottles of liquor because she thought they were "terrorists," according to charging documents filed in Yellowstone County District Court Tuesday.

Genevienne Marlene Rancuret, 55, was formally charged with nine felony counts of assault with a weapon (one for each person she allegedly tried to run over), one felony count of criminal endangerment, one felony count of criminal mischief and a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Rancuret is listed as an inmate in Yellowstone County jail and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday.

The incident began around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, when police received several calls of a female driver trying to run over a group of men stationed in the downtown Albertsons parking at the corner of Sixth Avenue North and North 27th Street, according to the documents filed by Yellowstone Chief Deputy County Attorney Christopher Morris.

Police later identified the group as members of Israel United for Christ, known for wearing purple shirts, and they were reading aloud from a microphone carrying a Bible on the street, according to the documents.According to The Associated Press, the New York-based group has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an extreme and antisemitic sect of Black Hebrew Israelites,” though the group insisted its members were acting peacefully and didn't speak with Rancuret before the alleged assault.

Prosecutors stated in charging documents that video surveillance showed Rancuret was parked in the Holiday gas station across the street from the group when she ran through them at least three times. One man, who was not part of the group, said he walked over to the group to hear what they were saying and told police he had to dive out of the way of the vehicle and feared he would die, according to the charging documents.

One man suffered an injury to his leg and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Billings police found the vehicle heading south of First Street West and stopped it near the intersection of 12th Street West and Central Avenue, according to charging documents.

Rancuret told police she started her morning with an argument with her son, after which she headed to a liquor store to buy the two bottles. She told police she drank both in her vehicle, according to charging documents.

When she was at the Holiday gas station, she alleged that a man approached her and said something derogatory to her, which is when she then complained the group was terrorists and police were doing nothing about it, according to charging documents.

She then said she intentionally drove at them and threatened them with her vehicle but maintained she didn't hit anyone, according to charging documents. She also went back and drove over their equipment.

According to charging documents, about $3,000 in equipment was damaged, including a generator, camera equipment, speakers, speaker stands and signs.

The case has been forwarded to the FBI for possible violations of federal law.

Related: 'It was chaos': Witness recounts seeing group driven through in downtown Billings