In Las Vegas Shootings, Some Suspect Roots In Anti-Government Militias
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Police in Las Vegas are operating under an emergency mobilization after a shooting yesterday left five people dead, including two police officers. Authorities have identified the married couple they say carried out the attack - a couple who had extreme anti-government and anti-law-enforcement views. NPR's Kirk Siegler has the latest.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Authorities say Jared Miller and his wife Amanda entered Cici's Pizza late Sunday morning armed with numerous handguns and a shotgun. Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo were eating lunch when authorities say the Millers approached them and opened fire. Clark County Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill says there was a brief gun battle and when it was over -
KEVIN MCMAHILL: The suspects pulled the officers out of the booth and onto the ground, where they placed a Gadsden flag, which is a don't-tread-on-me yellow flag on the body of Officer Beck. They also threw a swastika on top of his body.
SIEGLER: McMahill said the Millers then left the restaurant and went to a nearby Walmart, where they fired off a single round and told people inside the store that the police were coming and the quote, "revolution had begun." Inside the Walmart, police say the Millers were confronted by a customer now identified as 31-year-old Joseph Wilcox, who was carrying a concealed weapon.
MCMAHILL: As soon as he began to confront Jared Miller with his firearm, Amanda Miller removed her firearm and shot him one time in the ribs area and where he immediately collapsed.
SIEGLER: According to authorities, the Millers then barricaded themselves toward the back of the store. Amanda Miller, who was wounded in an apparent exchange of gunfire with police, then fatally shot her husband before shooting herself. Today Assistant Sheriff McMahill cautioned against drawing conclusions on a motive based on what's known so far, though he confirmed that the Millers held anti-government and anti-law-enforcement views.
MCMAHILL: I can tell you that there's no doubt that the suspects have some apparent ideology that's along the lines of militia and white supremacists. You already have reporting in the media that on the Facebook of Mr. Jared Miller - he indicated that he was at the Bundy ranch during the cattle stand-off.
SIEGLER: That apparent connection is being watched closely by those who monitor hate groups, including Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.
HEIDI BEIRICH: There are links to anti-government groups. It shows that they were part of this entire milieu. They were steeped in the ideology, repeating the ideology and preparing - arming themselves to do something about it, which is the horror of what happened yesterday.
SIEGLER: In April, armed militia swarmed to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's defense in a tense, armed stand-off and the federal authorities backed down. Beirich says this has become a rallying cry for the anti-government movement.
BEIRICH: And this has caused a situation which - people who have extreme anti-government views have come to see this as a huge victory and have come to see the idea that what you can do is you can point guns at federal officials and get them to stop enforcing the law.
SIEGLER: At today's press conference police said they're currently investigating whether Jared Miller had actually been kicked off the Bundy ranch due to his prior criminal activity. And Cliven Bundy's son confirmed that to the Associated Press this afternoon. Jared Miller has a felony conviction for auto theft. As their investigation and the emergency mobilization continue, the Las Vegas Police Department is also in a period of mourning. A vigil is planned for this evening. Kirk Siegler, NPR News.
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