Julie Williams and her daughters had enjoyed a casual lunch and were strolling along a historic street in the St. Louis area when she heard a startling comment.
"You need ISIS," a street preacher called out to her.
She had heard the group of three young men spewing slurs against homosexuals when they had passed by them. It was ugly stuff, but she figured it was their prerogative and kept walking.
But when one of them invoked ISIS, it stopped her cold.
Not today. It was less than three days since the mass shooting in a gay club in Orlando killed 49 people. Not here. This was a diverse and welcoming street -- a popular tourist attraction that always felt safe to her transgender daughter, Alice.
She told her daughters to keep walking and wait for her further down the street. They moved further ahead, but not as far as she would have liked.
"Excuse me? What did you say?" Williams asked the man on the street, who had been recording the two preachers next to him with a cellphone. "Are you referring to the Islamic State?"
"You will be blown off the face of the Earth," she says he told her.
He and the two other men with him kept referring to the Bible, citing passages from Leviticus. Williams, 52, of Creve Coeur, Missouri, asked them if they were affiliated with the terrorist group, which they denied. But they seemed to share some common ideology, and the harassment terrified her.
The men didn't appear to fit the stereotype of potential terrorists in America.
"I had no sense that they were foreign-born. No real sense that they were Muslims, because they were citing the Bible," Williams said. "They had so much hate, they were finding validation in a religious sort of teaching."
She called 911. The local police showed up; Williams gave a statement and filed a report.
Capt. Larry Hampton with the University City (Missouri) Police Department said the group is well-known in the neighborhood. They have been showing up every week for years to speak on street corners.
"This is a group that calls themselves a religion. They were just reading off a paper they call 'Scriptures,'" he said. "I don't think she was targeted."
Williams wonders if the men were tipped off to Alice's transgender status because Alice, 20, is over 6 feet tall. She doesn't know for sure what provoked their hateful commentary.
Hampton said the department enforces local ordinances against trespassing, street blockages or peace disturbances, but this group was within its rights to speak its views.
"The freedom of speech does apply to everyone," he said, adding that the department would share the information with the federal authorities. He does not believe the men have any connection to ISIS, and none of them has a felony record.
The incident shook Williams, who volunteers at St. Louis' Holocaust Museum. She contacted the Anti-Defamation League, which advised her to report the incident to the FBI. She realized that the men who called her an abomination and said her family should be "blown off the face of the earth" could legally purchase an assault weapon in Missouri. That thought scares her.
"It was not just upsetting to me and my children, but an issue of public safety," she said.
When Alice transitioned a few years ago, her family became her posse. They didn't let her go into public alone because they feared for her safety.
Her daughter had never faced any overt discrimination before, Julie said.
The incident raises questions about when free speech crosses the line into punishable hate speech. It illustrates the potential lure of ISIS by those who may only share an extremist ideology across so-called religious or ethnic backgrounds. It suggests the ability of hatemongers to exert greater intimidation or power by invoking the horror of ISIS.
For Williams, it made the debate about better gun regulations feel even more personal.
Most of us would back off a confrontation with a stranger acting like an unhinged extremist -- especially in a state with some of the loosest gun laws in the country. It's just too risky.
Their mother's actions made an impression on her daughters.
"Even now, I think about how brave she was," Alice said. "Her strong sense of justice was amazing."
Her mother admitted that she was scared, and said she would have ignored the hecklers if they had simply insulted her.
"I felt like they were threatening my child, and I wasn't going to stand for it," she said. "I didn't use to be brave until I had these kids."