Latest QAnon Killer Had Murder Hit List

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
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Rory Banks slipped out of his Sacramento-area house late one night in May 2021. He was ready to kill. The 44-year-old had two guns, four knives, pepper spray, and a hit list of registered sex offenders in his town.

Banks was driven by an unusual motivation, but one that’s become increasingly common across the United States in driving violence: QAnon.

Banks had become enthralled with the pro-Trump conspiracy theory online. He frequented Telegram, the social media app popular with QAnon users convinced world elites are engaged in Satanic pedophile-cannibal rituals. He put a Q sticker on his car.

Banks’ murderous QAnon hunt would end in tragedy for a man who had never met him. According to police and prosecutors, after leaving his house Banks would break into the home of Ralph Mendez, a 55-year-old man listed on California’s sex offender registry. Banks “executed” Mendez, according to a statement released by the prosecutors, killing him with shots to his head and torso.

In late October, a jury in California’s Yuba County found Banks guilty of Mendez’s premeditated murder. A year after the killing, Banks’ trial revealed the extent to which QAnon motivated him to kill—adding his name to a growing list of criminals driven to violence by the theory.

As a sign of how common QAnon violence has become, the jury verdict was delivered on the same day as the violent hammer attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband—violence committed by a suspect who, according to his blog, was also obsessed with QAnon.

The details of Banks’ trial were first reported by the Appeal-Democrat.

Man Murdered Wife, Shot Daughter After Being Sucked Down ‘Q Rabbit Hole,’ Family Confirms

After the murder, which was witnessed by Mendez’s 88-year-old mother, Banks called 911 on his victim’s phone. Police found him standing in the driveway dripping blood, according to a statement released by prosecutors.

Investigators began to uncover evidence of Banks’ ties to QAnon. At trial, a prosecutor said Banks was active on Telegram and was often “doing research” into the conspiracy theory on his phone, according to the Appeal-Democrat.

Banks’ wife told local TV station CBS Sacramento that her husband was interested in QAnon, and had talked to her with concern about the number of sex offenders he was able to find in the area.

Along with the guns and knives he carried with him, Banks appears to have had other deadly weapons in his home. In a search of his house after the murder, police discovered pipe bombs, according to the CBS Sacramento report.

Banks isn’t the only person accused of taking inspiration from QAnon to commit murder. One QAnon believer was accused of murdering a Mafia boss as part of a twisted plot to bring the man to a QAnon tribunal. Another allegedly killed his own brother after mistaking him for a “lizard-person,” while one QAnon follower is set to stand trial for murdering a man after she became convinced he was working with QAnon’s mythical “cabal” to keep her from her children.

QAnon, which is premised on a fascist moment called “The Storm” in which Donald Trump will imprison or execute his enemies, has violence at the core of its belief system. The conspiracy theory motivated a number of Capitol rioters, including Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by police on the day she was convinced would bring about “The Storm.” Other QAnon believers have been involved in plots to kidnap children, both in the United States and France.

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