Cops: Woman Drove Through Religious Group on Sidewalk

Montana suspect 'thought they were being racist against white people,' witness says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2023 6:30 PM CST
Cops: Woman Drove Through Religious Group on Sidewalk
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/MattGush)

A Montana woman is facing charges including felony assault with a weapon after allegedly driving through a religious gathering on a sidewalk in Billings on Saturday. "I just kind of saw this white Jeep fly by me and jump onto the sidewalk, straight at the group of people that were there," witness Jamee Wagenmann tells KTVQ. She says she thought it was an accident until she saw the driver try to hit the group again. The woman "drove into the Albertsons parking lot and then drove straight at them from behind, like trying to catch them not paying attention," Wagenmann says. Police say a 45-year-old man was injured.

Genevienne Rancuret, 55, faces eight counts of felony assault with a weapon—her vehicle, the AP reports. She also faces charges of felony criminal mischief and driving under the influence. The FBI is looking at the case, and the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office is considering bias-related charges. Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick says that the religious group was "Israelis for Christ" and its members "were all wearing purple, so it was clearly a group."

Sarah Gebhardt, who works in a convenience store across the street from where the group gathered, tells the AP that the suspect spoke to her moments before the alleged attack. "She thought they were being racist against white people. She didn't appreciate their interpretation of the Bible," Gebhardt says. "She made the comment that, 'While I'm in a Jeep, I should just run them over.' I did not think she was serious and then she went to the exit and it was pretty obvious she was very serious." A representative for the group—described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "an extreme and antisemitic sect of Black Hebrew Israelites"—says the members were acting peacefully and did not speak to the suspect. (More Montana stories.)

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