The gunman suspected of shooting three people at an Arizona shopping mall told authorities that he was involuntarily celibate (Incel).
During Armando Hernandez’s initial court appearance on Thursday, Maricopa County prosecutors said that the 20-year-old ‘self-professed’ to being an Incel.
Prosecutors said that Hernandez shot up the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale on Wednesday evening because he was ‘taking out his expressed anger with society.’
‘The feeling that women don’t want him,’ prosecutors added, according to a clip obtained by 12 News.
‘He is a self professed Incel, which means he claims he is involuntarily celibate. He was deeply angered by this. In his interview, he specifically said that he was targeting couples.’
During Armando Hernandez’s initial court appearance on Thursday, Maricopa County prosecutors said that the 20-year-old ‘self-professed’ to being an Incel
LISTEN: Westgate shooter Armando JR Hernandez had his initial appearance today. Maricopa Co. prosecutor says Hernandez self-identified as an incel (involuntary celibate), that he was angry at society, & that he was planning to shoot couples. 2 of the victims were a couple #12News pic.twitter.com/wtu6CBEJzF
— Mitch Carr (@mitchcarrtv) May 21, 2020
Prosecutors later added that Hernandez wanted ‘people to feel the pain that he feels on a daily basis.’
‘He was very open to the fact that he had a dark side and that the dark side was coming out,’ they said in the clip.
The court appearance footage comes after police released a mugshot for the gunman suspected of shooting three people at an Arizona shopping mall while filming the rampage on Snapchat.
Armando Hernandez, 20, is facing 16 felony charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault resulting serious physical injury in connection with the shooting.
Hernandez, 20, is facing 15 charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he shot three people during a rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Glendale, Arizona, on Wednesday night. He is pictured above in a mugshot from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
Sergeant Randy Stewart with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Hernandez admitted to being the shooter and told investigators he went to the shopping center because he wanted to harm 10 people.
‘He wanted to gain some respect and he felt he had been bullied in his life,’ Stewart said at a press conference on Thursday.
Stewart also confirmed that Hernandez had shared videos on Snapchat during the rampage that were later circulated on social media.
‘Hello, my name is Armando Junior Hernandez and I’m gonna be the shooter of Westgate 2020,’ he in one clip while sitting in his car outside the mall.
He flashes a can of Fosters brand beer before showing off guns and ammunition in the backseat.
‘Let’s get this done,’ he adds.
Terrified shoppers were filmed running for their lives away from the gunman and shouting: ‘It’s a shooting.’
Hernandez’ mother, who was in a flood of tears in the parking lot, revealed the gunman’s identity to local TV station 12News on the scene.
‘I have no idea why he did this,’ she told the outlet. She said she drove to Westgate when her younger son told her: ‘Armando’s going crazy.’
Aerial footage captured the moment Hernandez surrounded to police when they confronted him in the parking lot.
Hernandez was booked on the following charges: three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of aggravated assault that resulted in serious physical injury, one count of criminal damage, one count of recklessly damaging property, five counts of discharging a firearm within city limits and one county of disorderly conduct with a weapon.
Police also confirmed that Hernandez had shared videos on Snapchat during the rampage that were later circulated on social media. ‘Hello, my name is Armando Junior Hernandez and I’m gonna be the shooter of Westgate 2020,’ he says in one clip while sitting in his car outside the mall. He flashes a beer can before showing off guns and ammunition in the backseat
Aerial video from the parking lot shows Hernandez walking calmly with a rifle in his left hand
Hernandez can be seen kneeling on the ground in the parking lot as he was cornered by law enforcement
Police received reports of shots fired at around 7.25pm local time. Officers remained on scene well after nightfall (pictured)
A group of people are seen crying outside the shopping center after police cordoned off the area
Investigators are seen outside the mall on Thursday morning as police confirmed the name of the suspect
One of those injured, a 19-year-old man, was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and is in critical condition as of Thursday, police said.
A second victim, a 16-year-old girl, was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The third victim, a 30-year-old woman, suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was not taken to the hospital.
State Senator Martín Quezada announced on Twitter that he witnessed an ‘armed terrorist with an AR-15 shoot up Westgate’.
A former classmate of Hernandez said he was ‘troubled’ and ‘anti-government’. The suspected shooter is seen above in a yearbook photo
‘I saw 2 victims with my own eyes. Not sure how many others I saw the shooter. Being told not to say anything else about details ’til I speak to police. I’m ok. Lots of shaken up people,’ Quezada wrote.
A former classmate of Hernandez described him as ‘troubled’ and ‘anti-government’.
The 20-year-old previously attended Raymond Kellis High School, which is over the road from the popular entertainment hub.
His mother was in tears when she saw his social media posts ranting about society and identified her son as the shooter, 12News reported.
US Marshals were seen raiding Hernandez’ home in Peoria at about 11pm that night. They left around 3.30am after taking photographs and removing multiple bags of evidence from the home.
In the series of clips uploaded to Snapchat, Hernandez is seen wearing a face mask as he opens the rear door of his car to show an AR-15 resting on the back seat.
‘We’ll be shooting up Westgate,’ he says. ‘Let’s get this done guys.’
The clip then cuts to an automatic weapon ringing out shots as he enters the building.
He is seen walking along the corridor to the escalators but doesn’t come into contact with anyone.
Pictured: A woman covers her face while running for her life from an active shooter at Westgate shopping district in Arizona yesterday
Pictured: A woman flees from the scene of a shooting at Westgate shopping center in Arizona yesterday
Authorities say at least three people were injured during the incident. An ambulance is pictured at the scene
Authorities towed away an Audi sedan believed to have belonged to the gunman
US Marshals were seen raiding a home in Peoria where Hernandez reportedly lives on Wednesday night
The Westgate shopping center, part of a complex that includes arenas for Cardinals football and Coyotes hockey, was humming with activity after many of its stores and restaurants were closed for more than a month due to coronavirus outbreak. The district is pictured Wednesday evening
Officials with the Westgate Entertainment District said they were ‘deeply troubled by this incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families’. The shopping center is seen blocked off by police tape on Thursday
A cut to another upload shows the barrel of the gun pointed towards a woman trying to hide between two cars in the parking lot of the shopping center. He doesn’t shoot her during the clip but her condition is unknown.
Throughout the recordings of the rampage the shooter repeatedly says: ‘It’s society’s fault.’
Aerial footage obtained by 12News shows him prowling in the parking lot with a rifle and firing several shots.
After calmly walking through the area he hides between some cars. A patrol vehicle then pulls up to him and he surrenders himself to officers.
State Senator Martín Quezada tweeted following the incident on Wednesday
Several witnesses described the scene at the mall on social media and in interviews with local news outlets.
‘There is a possible shooting going on at Westgate in Glendale. I’m here at work with a coworker hiding in the back of our studio. Hoping to get through all of this,’ one person posted on Twitter during the attack.
A teenager who worked at the mall was visibly distraught when she spoke to 12News in the parking lot afterward.
‘It was…I don’t even know,’ she said. ‘My first instinct was to call my mom, so I called her once I got into the back and grabbed my stuff to run to my car. Everyone was in the back. When we went to the door the shots got louder so we came back.’
Another survivor named Page, 22, was at the Yard House restaurant celebrating her friend’s 21st birthday when the shots rang out and everyone sought shelter under tables.
12News footage showed the windows at the restaurant shattered with visible bullet holes.
Sen Quezada told the outlet: ‘I saw him through my window after the shots were fired. He was walking calmly and reloading his weapon.’
12News anchor Mitch Carr said he spoke to Hernandez’ mother who was in floods of tears in the parking lot
The Westgate shopping center, part of a complex that includes arenas for Cardinals football and Coyotes hockey, was humming with activity after many of its stores and restaurants were closed for more than a month due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Police locked down the area and have been methodically inspecting individual stores with weapons drawn and accompanied by a K9 unit, to search for any additional victims or suspects.
People living in the area were ordered to shelter in place following reports of the shooting. Many of those faced a power outage around the same time.
The power outage, which affected local apartment blocks and street lamps, caused some residents to come out on to the street while the shooter was active, 12 News reported.
Law enforcement had tweeted at around 7.45pm: ‘Please stay out of the #Westgate area.
‘Preliminary info from our dispatch is there were at least two persons struck by gunfire and one person is in custody.
‘PIO is enroute to the scene. Media staging for now will be West of the Arena.’
One person was in critical condition and two others were injured in a shooting Wednesday near a popular shopping and entertainment district west of Phoenix, police said
Video from the scene shows a large police presence. Arizona governor Doug Ducey said: ‘We are monitoring this closely’
Glendale police confirmed the incident, saying three people were injured
US Marshals are seen executing a search warrant outside Hernandez’s home in Peoria on Wednesday night
Investigators were seen collecting evidence from a pick-up truck parked outside the home
The US Marshals were assisted by officers from the Glendale and Peoria police departments
Police later confirmed a few minutes later that a suspect was in custody, tweeting: ‘Update: there are no more reports of any active shooting.
‘One suspect is in custody. We are shutting down the Westgate area to ensure everyone is safe. Media staging will be at Cabelas parking lot.’
They confirmed the shooter’s name in a tweet on Thursday morning and said that the search for additional victims had concluded.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a statement hours after the shooting, saying: ‘Our hearts and prayers are with the individuals and families impacted tonight, as well as the first responders and police officers who are on the scene. The state is here to continue to offer its full support to the victims and to the community.’
Democratic Rep Greg Stanton said: ‘Praying hard for the two victims at Westgate and for the hundreds who just lived through the nightmare of a mass shooting.
‘This is a terrible situation that could have been much worse—I’m grateful for the quick response from @GlendaleAZPD that undoubtedly saved lives.’
Jerry Weiers, the Mayor of Glendale, said: ‘I want everyone to know that this is not normal.
‘We are dealing with somebody who obviously had issues.’
Officials with the Westgate Entertainment District issued a statement saying they were ‘deeply troubled by this incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.’
‘Westgate will continue to work closely with the Glendale Police Department and in-house security to best ensure the safety of our customers, tenants and residents,’ the statement said.
What is an Incel?
‘Incel’ stands for ‘involuntary celibate’ and is a term used by a certain group of men who blame their inability to form relationships and have sex on women.
Incel groups have been accused of inciting violence and misogyny online and numerous communities and subreddits have been banned over their content.
A cryptic Facebook message posted by Toronto suspect Alek Minassian just before the incident suggested he was part of an online community angry over their inability to form relationships with the opposite sex.
The now-deleted post saluted Elliot Rodger, a community college student who killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014.
In 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 in shooting and stabbing attacks near the University of California, Santa Barbara
Calling Rodger ‘the Supreme Gentleman’, the Facebook post declared: ‘The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!’
Chads and Stacys are names used in internet forums to denote people with more active sexual lives.
The reference to the term ‘incel’, meaning involuntarily celibate, was a term used by Rodger in online posts raging at women for rejecting him romantically.
The anti-women sentiment also recalled Canada’s 1989 massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering college in Montreal, when 25-year-old Marc Lepine entered a classroom.
He then separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself.
In a suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life.