Woman who Montana police say drove repeatedly through religious group pleads not guilty

Dec 13, 2023, 10:59 AM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman who police say drove her vehicle repeatedly through a group of religious demonstrators, wounding one person, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to multiple felony charges.

Genevienne Marlene Rancuret, 55, was arraigned in state district court and ordered held on $250,000 bond in the alleged weekend assault in Billings against members of Israel United in Christ.

About 10 men from the group were assembled along a busy road in front of a grocery store where they were holding signs and reading the Bible through an an amplifier, when Rancuret drove at or through them several times, according to court documents and a witness.

Moments earlier Rancuret had allegedly told an employee at a nearby convenience store that she thought the group was being racist against white people and suggested she was going to run them over. Rancuret later told police that the group had directed a derogatory term toward her and she felt threatened so she intentionally drove at them with her Jeep Wrangler, according to court documents.

A 45-year-old man who was struck suffered minor injuries, according to police. Property damage to the group’s equipment exceeded $1,500, according to court documents.

A representative of Israel United in Christ said earlier this week that its members were preaching peacefully when they were attacked without provocation. The New York-based religious group has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an extreme and antisemitic sect of Black Hebrew Israelites.” Followers believe that Judaism is a false religion and Black people, Hispanics and Native Americans are the true descendants of the tribes of Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Victims of the weekend assault and their supporters attended Wednesday’s hearing. They did not speak during the proceedings and afterward declined to speak with an Associated Press reporter.

Rancuret is charged with nine counts of assault with a weapon, criminal endangerment, criminal mischief and driving under the influence.

District Court Standing Master Bradley Kneeland, who presided over Wednesday’s arraignment, rejected a request by public defender Seth Haack to release Rancuret on her own recognizance so she could be with her 93-year-old mother.

Haack did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Rancuret pleaded guilty in 2021 to felony assault with a weapon after threatening someone with a bread knife, according to court records. She was given a seven-year deferred sentence and placed on probation.

National News

Associated Press

Rail bridge collapses during Midwest flooding as a heat wave persists across much of the US

Millions of Americans sweated through a scorching weekend as temperatures soared across the U.S., while residents were rescued from floodwaters that forced evacuations across the Midwest. One person died during flooding in South Dakota, the governor said. From the mid-Atlantic to Maine, across the Great Lakes region, and throughout the West to California, public officials […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men stepped in and drew firearms, according to a statement from St. Louis police. The man who died likely was in his mid-twenties and […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pursuing a stolen vehicle in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while pursing a suspected stolen vehicle in Detroit, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said Sunday. Bradley J. Reckling, who was on duty in an unmarked car, was following a 2022 Chevy Equinox Saturday evening after the vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the day […]

18 hours ago

Woman who Montana police say drove repeatedly through religious group pleads not guilty