LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A married couple who shot dead two Las Vegas police officers in a weekend pizza parlor ambush harbored anti-government and white supremacist ideology and threw a swastika on the body of one of the officers they gunned down, police said on Monday.
The couple are believed to have acted alone on Sunday when they killed the lunching policemen before heading to a nearby Walmart, where they killed a bystander who tried to stop them. Later, surrounded by police, 22-year-old Amanda Miller shot and killed her 31-year-old husband, Jerad, then took her own life.
“At this time we believe this is an isolated act,” Assistant Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill told a news conference. “There is no doubt that the suspects have some apparent ideology that’s along the lines of militia and white supremacist.”
Information about the suspects gleaned from police and social media painted a picture of a pair with increasingly extremist views on government and law enforcement, culminating in an ominous Facebook post a day before the shooting.
“The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it,” Jerad Miller posted on his Facebook page on Saturday.
Police said the Millers, who were married in 2012 in Indiana, had expressed support in social media for renegade Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and the husband claimed to have been present at the standoff between federal agents and militia members at Bundy’s ranch in April, police said.
McMahill said Jerad Miller wrote on Facebook that he had been “kicked out” of the Bundy ranch because of his criminal history and background. McMahill said investigators were still looking into the couple’s ties to right-wing extremist groups.
He said police had not yet confirmed whether Jerad Miller had turned up at the Bundy ranch, where federal agents and Bundy supporters clashed over a forced round-up of his cattle on public land.
Local government records from Indiana’s Tippecanoe County show Jerad Miller was charged with felony possession of marijuana in 2010. Police said he was also convicted of vehicle theft offenses in Washington state.A YouTube video channel Jerad Miller established consists mostly of footage of his cats and of himself crying and asking his wife to visit him in jail.
Amanda Miller’s Facebook page contains photos of the couple dressed as comic book villains The Joker and Harley Quinn, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the couple were known to dress as characters and pose with tourists on Las Vegas’ popular Fremont Street area.
Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups, said the Millers appeared to be “right-wing anti-government extremists of the ‘Patriot’ movement variety, believing in all the common militia-type conspiracy theories.”
McMahill said police investigators believe they equated government and law enforcement with the Nazi movement and saw police as oppressors, even as they also appeared to subscribe to white supremacist ideology themselves.
McMahill also revealed at a Monday news conference new details of the circumstances surrounding the fatal ambush of patrol officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who were killed as they ate lunch in a pizza parlor booth.
After shooting the officers, the couple placed atop Beck’s body a replica of a Gadsden flag, a yellow Revolutionary War-era banner that bears an image of a coiled snake and the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me,” McMahill said.
He said the suspects also threw a swastika symbol on Beck’s body and pinned a note to Soldo saying the attack was “the beginning of the revolution,” a phrase also heard by bystanders in the restaurant.
The duo then grabbed the officers’ weapons and fled to the Walmart, where Amanda Miller gunned down a bystander, Joseph Wilcox, who had tried to confront Jerad Miller with his own concealed weapon after the couple burst into the store shouting: “This is a revolution.”
The couple exchanged fire with police and retreated to the rear of the store, where Amanda Miller killed her spouse and herself, McMahill said.
Additional reporting by Alexia Shurmur, Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Jim Loney