Analysis
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Mark Reno, left, genuflecting before a Eucharistic procession in Knoxville (WBIR/YouTube screenshot)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (LifeSiteNews) — The Knoxville Police Department (KPD) has no record of a shooting at the John J. Duncan federal building on July 3, 2022. And yet this is the crime for which the FBI arrested Mark Reno on July 18, 2022. Although Reno was in good health prior to his arrest, he died in federal custody 28 days later. After his death, the Justice Department publicly accused Reno of being the arsonist who torched Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood building a year earlier on December 31, 2021. However, Planned Parenthood’s own security video captured the true arsonist who was much thinner than Reno. Despite multiple FOIA requests, the FBI has refused to release any records pertaining to the alleged shooting or the arson.

On May 16, 2024, this journalist received an email from Eric Vreeland, Deputy Director of Communications for the City of Knoxville. Vreeland wrote: “We have found no City records or reports regarding a July 2022 shooting at the Duncan federal building. We searched KPD’s records, consulted with the Investigations Bureau, double-checked with dispatch – we located no records.”

The Duncan federal building is in the heart of downtown Knoxville, on the corner of Locust Street and Cumberland Avenue—well within the jurisdiction of the Knoxville Police Department. Yet the FBI never made a courtesy call to KPD to let them know about a shooting within their jurisdiction.

Months earlier, the alleged shooter, Mark Reno, had drawn the attention of both the Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) and the FBI because he was pro-life and because his red 2006 GMC Sierra was a plausible match to the arsonist’s truck captured by Planned Parenthood’s security video. On April 26, 2022, an undercover KFD officer engaged Reno at a pro-life event and recorded their conversation on FBI equipment.

In this conversation, Reno made brash obscenity-laced statements threatening federal institutions and law enforcement. He also admitted attending the protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, though the FBI never found evidence that he entered the Capitol Building. A few months later, KFD dismissed Reno as a suspect in the Planned Parenthood arson, but the FBI continued to investigate him.

The FBI used the recording of the April 26 conversation to secure court authorization to place tracking devices on both of Reno’s vehicles—his red GMC Sierra pick-up and his black Ford Fusion sedan.

After tracking him for weeks, the FBI alleged that on Sunday, July 3, Reno left Holy Ghost Catholic Church after Mass, drove downtown, and used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot three windows of the Duncan building from his car while driving south on Locust Street.

However, there is scant evidence that this “shooting” ever occurred. No one heard gunshots. A security guard heard the windows break, but he didn’t call the police. The Knoxville Police Department has no record of the shooting. The windows were double-paned, but only the outer panes were said to be damaged; the inner panes remained intact. The FBI did not recover any bullets or shells from the scene.

According to the FBI, the only physical evidence linking Reno to the crime scene was his 2012 black Ford Fusion sedan. Citing tracker data, street cameras, and building security video, the FBI alleged that Reno was driving his car south on Locust Street, adjacent to the Duncan building, precisely when the windows were broken.

But the FBI was remarkably uninterested in Reno’s car when they arrested him at his home on July 18, 2022. They left it at his residence. The FBI didn’t seize Reno’s Ford Fusion sedan until October 28, 2022—days before posthumously accusing him of the Planned Parenthood arson.

Despite the lack of evidence that a shooting had occurred, Mark Reno was indicted by a grand jury, primarily on the testimony of FBI agents. The government’s exhibit list did not include any evidence from the crime scene, but included many photographs of weapons, ammunition, and books owned by Reno; these photographs were all taken at Reno’s home on the day of his arrest.

The last item on the government’s exhibit list for the grand jury was “Affidavit from Police Dept.” This entry motivated our recent query to the City of Knoxville. We specifically requested a copy of this affidavit, but Vreeland responded, “Similarly, we found no affidavit or subpoena that would have resulted in an affidavit involving anyone at KPD related to the Mark Reno federal case, for which you provided a federal court exhibit and witness list.”

RELATED: How a flawed FBI investigation led to the jailing and death of pro-lifer Mark Reno 

Reno was denied bail and incarcerated at the Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Kentucky. Although he was in good health when he was arrested, Reno died 28 days later on August 15, 2022. He was only 63 years old. While incarcerated, he received none of his prescribed medications. He sent a message to his daughter: “I think I’m going to die in here.” When prison guards found him unresponsive, they transferred him to a local hospital. His family arrived at the hospital just after he expired. They were told that he bled to death from an ulcer, but they never received an autopsy report.

On November 1, 2022, the Justice Department issued a press release identifying Reno as the Planned Parenthood arsonist. This accusation remains the prevailing story with major media outlets.

Indeed, when the Justice Department made its accusation, most Knoxville citizens believed it, precisely because Reno had been indicted on an earlier charge of shooting at the Duncan building.

However, Reno wasn’t the arsonist. A side-by-side comparison between the arsonist captured by Planned Parenthood’s security cameras and a profile photograph of Mark Reno clearly exonerates Reno. This information has been provided to the FBI’s Knoxville field office, but the Justice Department has not recanted the accusation.

This journalist has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the FBI for all records related to Mark Reno and Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood arson. The FBI was served on Wednesday, April 24, 2024; they have until June 23 to respond.

Jenny Hay is the editor of Knoxville Nobility, a Substack publication for local pro-life, pro-family news and insights, including firsthand reporting on Knoxville’s 2021 Planned Parenthood arson.

Related:

EXCLUSIVE: New Knoxville Planned Parenthood security video casts doubt on FBI case against pro-lifer

VIDEO: New Knoxville Planned Parenthood security video casts doubt on FBI case against pro-lifer 

FBI intends to withhold records on Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood fire until 2026 

Pro-life journalist sues FBI for access to records on Knoxville Planned Parenthood arson 

Knoxville Planned Parenthood was intentionally set ablaze from inside, fire dept. concludes  

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