Police: Las Vegas shooting suspects espoused white power, antigovernment views (+video)
Police identified the two suspects in Sunday's shooting rampage in Las Vegas that left five people dead – two police officers, a bystander, and the suspects themselves. Militant white supremacy and antigovernment views are a factor, officials say.
Las Vegas police sketched out Monday a rough portrait of the two Las Vegas shooting rampage suspects, portraying them as militant white supremacists who harbored antigovernment theologies.
Clark County Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill identified Jerad and Amanda Miller as the two suspects, who reportedly killed themselves after shooting two police officers and a civilian.
Details of the shootings on Sunday remain cloudy. However, police accounts suggest that the couple ambushed the two officers while they were eating lunch at a Las Vegas pizzeria, stole their weapons, then fled to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they shot a bystander. The entire incident lasted a matter of minutes before Ms. Miller reportedly shot her husband and then turned the gun on herself.
Mr. McMahill said at a news briefing that the suspects placed some unusual items on the officers' bodies: a yellow Revolutionary War-era banner bearing a coiled snake and the phrase “Don’t tread on me,” a swastika, and a note declaring revolution.
“We believe that they equate government and law enforcement with fascism, with Nazis,” McMahill said, according to CNN. “In other words, they believe law enforcement is the oppressor.”
According to the Millers' neighbors, the couple had previously bragged about their cache of weapons and said they were biding their time until the right moment to launch an attack on police officers, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.
“They were handing out white-power propaganda and were talking about doing the next Columbine,” neighbor Brandon Moore told the Las Vegas Sun.
Ms. Miller reportedly "liked" several videos espousing the killing of police officers, including "Shooting Cops," "Citizens Can Shoot Police," and "When Is It Okay To Shoot a Cop," Mother Jones reports.
In the weeks leading up to the attack, the couple posted a series of chilling comments on their respective Facebook pages, according to extremism expert Mark Potok, who pens the Southern Poverty Law Center’s "Hatewatch" blog.
In the days and weeks before the attack, Miller posted a series of comments on his Facebook page indicating that, in order to restore “freedom” to the United States, the “best men” would strike for “a free and just world with our blood, sweat and tears as pavement,” he said on June 2. “There is no greater cause to die for than liberty,” he wrote on May 2. “I will willingly die for liberty.” On March 25, he wrote: “I stand firm in my convictions and stand prepared to die for them. … Come for me, free me from your slavery. Give me the death a hero deserves.”
Amanda Miller, who married Jerad on Sept. 22, 2012, didn’t sound very different on her own Facebook page on May 23. “[T]o the people of the world… your [sic] lucky i can’t kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose [sic] and i’ll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other.”
Police are looking into reports that the Millers had joined the antigovernment militia that amassed on rancher Cliven Bundy’s property in Nevada in April during a dispute with the federal government over grazing rights. Mr. Bundy has publicly stated that he does not recognize the authority of the federal government and refused to pay.
Since the shootings, the Las Vegas Review Journal reached out to Bundy’s wife, Carol, who said she had no reason to believe that the militia members who had flocked to the family’s aid “had any intent to kill or harm anyone.”
This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.