A married couple who reportedly bragged about their ties to white supremacists killed two police officers, another person, and ultimately themselves in Las Vegas on Sunday. According to neighbors, the duo — whose names have not been publicly released — “had a reputation for spouting racist, anti-government views, bragging about their gun collection and boasting that they’d spent time at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during a recent standoff there between armed militia members and federal government agents.”
The incident comes just days after the Department of Justice announced that it was relaunching a law enforcement group to investigate domestic terrorism. The so-called “Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee” was formed after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, but was disbanded in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
“We face an escalating danger from self-radicalized individuals within our own borders,” Holder said in a video announcing the re-formation of the group. “Now — as the nature of the threat we face evolves to include the possibility of individual radicalization via the Internet — it is critical that we return our focus to potential extremists here at home.”
Though the group was formed in response to criticism that the FBI did not to share information with local law enforcement agencies about the radicalization of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers allegedly responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, DOJ cited a Congressional Research Service report showing that “domestic terrorists were responsible for more than two dozen incidents in the U.S. since 9/11.” A count by the New America Foundation found that “right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons” between 9/11 and April of 2014.
Some of that violence is fueled by groups and individuals devoted to white supremacist ideology, a movement that is “largely driven by the demographic ‘browning’ of the population and predictions of the loss of a white majority in the next 30 years.” The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that these groups experienced “four years of spectacular growth” in the aftermath of the 2008 presidential election and the “nearly simultaneous collapse of the economy,” but saw its “first significant decrease in 2013.”
The Vegas shooting comes in the aftermath of a recent anti-Jewish fueled shooting spree in Kansas City, Kansas in April, the killing of six Sikhs in a Wisconsin temple in 2012 and the murder of a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009.
The two shooters in Las Vegas allegedly shouted “this is the start of a revolution” before opening fire at the two officers — Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo — and draped their bodies with a “don’t tread on me” Revolution-era flag. Police later found swastika symbols in the shooters’ home.
The shooters have been identified as Jerad and Amanda Miller. A NBC affiliate has this video of Jared Miller speaking to reporters at the Bundy ranch in April: “I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or something like that. I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re going to come bring violence to us, well if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it,” he says. Watch 45 seconds in:
NBC news is reporting that the Millers “left their apartment with a shopping cart full of weapons” and that Jerad told a neighbor, “We gotta do what we gotta do.” His wife added, “I am so sorry.” Another neighbor claimed the Millers “wanted to overthrow the government and President Barack Obama and kill police officers.”
Cliven Bundy’s son told the Associated Press that “Jerad and Amanda Miller were asked to leave his father’s ranch after being there for a few days this spring,” claiming that they were “very radical.” “Not very many people were asked to leave,” he said. “I think they may have been the only ones.”