Montana woman under arrest for driving vehicle into ‘religious group’ on sidewalk

BILLINGS, Montana — A woman has been arrested after she drove her vehicle several times at or through a religious group demonstrating on a sidewalk, hitting and injuring one man, Montana police say.

Genevienne Rancuret, 55, was pulled over by police in Billings on Saturday a few hours after the episode and taken to jail on charges of felony assault with a weapon — the vehicle — felony criminal mischief and driving under the influence, police said. It is not known if she has a lawyer representing her yet.

The 45-year-old man who was struck suffered minor injuries. Members of the group he was with, identified by police as “Israelis for Christ,” were holding signs and speaking through an amplifier at the time, a police spokesperson, Lt. Matt Lennick, said.

Lennick said he did not have enough information to comment on what the motive could be.

An update from police said the FBI was also reviewing what happened, along with local prosecutors, suggesting the federal agency was looking into whether it could be a bias-motivated crime.

The group, as named by police, does not appear to have a current online presence and no immediate information could be found.

There is, however, an Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ which is an American organization of Black Hebrew Israelites headquartered in New York. The sect has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as “extreme and antisemitic,” and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A witness told the KTVQ news channel in Montana Sunday that the demonstrators were “all wearing purple, so it was clearly a group.”

Black Hebrew Israelites have been seen at gatherings and marches in matching purple clothing.

But it was not immediately clear if that was the group targeted in Sunday’s attack.

“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,” the witness told KTVQ. “The first thing that I thought was they lost control and they were in a wreck.”

But then the driver tried to hit the group again, said the witness.

Last month, a woman in Indiana was arrested after she drove her car into an Indianapolis residential building used by Black Hebrew Israelites as a school, mistakenly believing it was a Jewish school.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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