KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Jefferson City man who traveled to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and told an undercover FBI agent he was a member of a group called the “Church Militant Resistance” has been charged with shooting at a federal office building in Knoxville on July 3.
Mark Thomas Reno, of Jefferson City, Tenn. is charged with damaging federal property after windows at the John J. Duncan Federal Office Building in downtown Knoxville were damaged by gunfire on July 3. The unsealed FBI warrant was first reported by the Tennessee Lookout.
Reno was ordered to be jailed without bond pending further court proceedings by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill McCook on Thursday.
The federal arrest warrant states that FBI agents had been investigating Reno as part of an ongoing probe. An undercover agent met with Reno at a public event in Knoxville in January and again at another public event in Knoxville on April 26. Reno was surveilled and tracked by federal investigators numerous times from April to late June.
The undercover agent’s interaction with Reno on April 26 was secretly recorded. Reno said during the conversation that he was part of a group called the Church Militant Resistance. The warrant states the group is a local chapter of the Church Militant organization whose stated mission is to resist actions that oppose the Catholic Orthodoxy and/or decency.
He also made numerous statements about identifying targets and destroying property, including government buildings, to the undercover agent on April 26.
“I mean, we have plenty of targets. There should be no U.S. Department of Education, federally speaking, all education is done by the states so why the feds in on it at all? Department of Energy — don’t need it,” Reno said. “I mean, the government’s here for defense, roads and privacy of communication. That’s all, that’s all it’s entitled to in the Constitution.”
“It’s not entitled to do anything else,” Reno said. “Get rid of it all … It’s (expletive) war. It’s war to the end now.”
Reno also told the undercover agent that he attended the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. He said he used a fake walking cane, wore glasses and did not bring his phone in an effort to avoid detection. The warrant states he told the undercover agent you should not bring your phone if you are going to do something illegal because the government can track you.
“I was there on January 6,” said Reno. “I don’t sleep so good. You know them (expletives) come for me, they ain’t gonna take me alive. I’m not afraid of tight spaces. I’m claustrophobic. I’m not gonna be treated like them other (expletives) too. They’ve been there for over a year now, fifteen months now. I’ll kill ’em. They’ll kill me, but I’m gonna kill a bunch of them.”
FBI agents reviewed evidence from the January 6 riot and confirmed Reno was present outside the Capitol on the day. No evidence has been found, to date, that Reno entered the Capitol or otherwise committed a crime that day.
Reno was placed under physical surveillance approximately 19 times from April 20 to June 27. The FBI installed a camera near his Jefferson City home on May 13 and Judge McCook authorized tracking devices to be placed on two vehicles registered to Reno on June 13.
On July 3, a John J. Duncan Federal Office Building security guard heard two loud bangs and observed two broken windows in the lobby area of the building facing Locust Street. An exterior window of the Internal Revenue Service office in the Federal Building was also damaged.
Surveillance footage and tracking data from Reno’s vehicle show it stopped in the area of the nearby U.S. Attorney’s Office and traveled to a church attended by Reno less than two hours before the incident, according to the arrest warrant.
While he was not being physically surveilled at the time of the shooting, trackers placed on Reno’s car by FBI agents show the vehicle was adjacent to the federal building at the time of the shooting. A security camera captured the car traveling southbound on Locust Street, slowing down in the area of the damaged windows and an object being extended through the driver’s side window pointing in the direction of the windows.
“Based on my training and experience, as well as my participation in this investigation, it appears that Reno fired a projectile out of Vehicle 1 to destroy the windows in the Federal Building,” FBI Agent Jessi Mann wrote.
Tracking data shows the vehicle returned to Reno’s Jefferson City home following the shooting. The location history of Reno’s cell phone showed it remained at the home during the shooting, consistent with his conversation with the undercover agent about leaving devices at home in an effort to avoid detection.
The total damage to the windows was estimated to be $5,440. The warrant was issued on July 15 but remained sealed until his arrest and appearance of Reno in federal court earlier this week.