This story was co-published with Frontline PBS.
The 18-year-old, excited by his handiwork at the bloody rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, quickly went online to boast. He used the handle VasillistheGreek.
“Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself,” the young man wrote on Aug. 12, 2017.
Vasillios Pistolis had come to the now infamous Unite the Right rally eager for such violence. He belonged to a white supremacist group known as Atomwaffen Division, a secretive neo-Nazi organization whose members say they are preparing for a coming race war in the U.S. In online chats leading up to the rally, Pistolis had been encouraged to be vicious with any counter-protestors, maybe even sodomize someone with a knife. He’d responded by saying he was prepared to kill someone “if shit goes down.”
One of Pistolis’ victims that weekend was Emily Gorcenski, a data scientist and trans woman from Charlottesville who had shown up to confront the rally’s hundreds of white supremacists. In an online post, Pistolis delighted in how he had “drop kicked” that “tranny” during a violent nighttime march on the campus of the University of Virginia. He also wrote about a blood-soaked flag he’d kept as a memento.
“Not my blood,” he took care to note.