Last night, J.T. Ready, a neo-Nazi anti-immigrant activist with ties to a top Arizona Republican, reportedly killed four people in Gilbert, Arizona before shooting and killing himself. Ready previously ran for Mesa City Council as a Republican, and was seeking the Democratic nomination to be Sheriff of Pinal County at the time of his death. Although the local Democrats promptly disowned him after he announced his intention to do so.
While Ready’s most prominent past supporter, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce distanced himself from Ready after his association with the neo-Nazi became widely known, a border vigilante group he helped found called the U.S Border Guards expressed their condolences and said he would be sorely missed. A message posted on their website today read, “God bless you, J.T. You will be fiercely missed:”
Other activists of the same far-right ideological ilk as ready expressed a mix of denial and conspiracy theorizing. As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s blog reports:
In general, the theories surrounding Ready’s death follow a few expected narratives: that Ready was killed by drug smugglers; that Jews running the federal government had come calling; even that Ready was acting in self-defense when he was killed. Whatever the flavor of conspiracy, it’s not surprising that Ready’s death should garner such a response. He was a darling of the movement – a well-spoken and husky presence on the border, almost always armed as if he were going to war.
For all the denials from respectable conservatives now, Ready traveled unusually close to the conservative mainstream for someone on the radical fringe, such as by speaking at Tea Party rallies and holding party positions in the local GOP.