NEWS

Las Vegas shooting suspects had 'white supremacist' views

06/09/2014 07:50 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:08 EDT
The husband and wife duo suspected of killing two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian shopper at a Wal-Mart held some ideology "along the lines of militia and white supremacists," authorities told reporters Monday.

One of the shooters yelled, "This is a revolution!", Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield told The Associated Press. Jerad Miller and his wife, Amanda, have been named as the suspects.

The deadly rampage Sunday in the aging shopping centre northeast of the Las Vegas Strip took place in a matter of minutes. Police were called at 11:22 a.m. local time to CiCi’s Pizza pizzeria, where one of the officers was able to fire back at his assailants. It's unclear whether he hit them, Sheriff Doug Gillespie said.

The attack at a CiCi's Pizza restaurant killed Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who are both husbands and fathers.

Although investigators are still trying to determine a motive, they said the shooters laid down a Gasden "don't tread on me" flag — seen to symbolize American independence and freedom — as well as a swastika on the bodies of the slain officers.

Wal-Mart shopper died 'heroically'

"We believe they equate government and law enforcement ... as the oppressor," Las Vegas Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Monday during a press briefing. He said Jerad Miller was seen pinning a note to Soldo that stated "the revolution is beginning."

Following the violence in the restaurant, shots were reported five minutes later at a nearby Wal-Mart, where the shooters gunned down a person just inside the front door and exchanged gunfire with police before killing themselves, police said.

According to McMahill's media update, Amanda Miller shot her husband before killing herself as part of an apparent suicide pact.

"No doubt the suspects have some apparent ideology that's along the lines of militia and white supremacists," McMahill told reporters, adding that investigators are looking into a possible link Jerad and Amanda Miller had with Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, the scene of an intense police standoff earlier this year.

The Wal-Mart victim was identified as 31-year-old Joseph Wilcox, who McMahill said died "heroically" while trying to confront Jerad Miller.

Wilcox had been carrying a concealed weapon and likely believed he would be dealing with a lone gunman.

But Wilcox "did not realize Amanda Miller was with Jerad Miller and passed her directly," McMahill said, at which time she is said to have shot Wilcox in the ribs, killing him.

"It's a tragic day," Gillespie said at a news conference Sunday. "But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with an emptiness in our hearts."

For added safety, officers who normally work alone will be paired up with another officer for a time, Gillespie said.

Both officers were pronounced dead at University Medical Center. Beck had been with the department since 2001 and leaves behind a wife and three children. Soldo had been with the force since 2006 and is survived by a wife and baby, police said.

He was described as a good father and a "great guy" by his sister-in-law, Colleen Soldo of Beatrice, Nebraska. She said he attended high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and previously worked as a corrections officer.

'Everyone get out'

Sheree Burns, 48, told the Las Vegas Sun she was eating at the restaurant, seated just behind the two officers when a man came up to one of the officers and shot him in the head.

She said she ducked under her table but peeked up and saw the other officer being shot.

She said the man took an officer's handgun and the two attackers fled.

Pauline Pacheco was shopping at Wal-Mart when she saw the armed man and grabbed her father to escape, KLAS-TV reported.

McMahill said the male suspect yelled "everyone get out" before shooting at Wal-Mart. The suspects then walked to the back of the store.

Wal-Mart employees and shoppers were taken to a nearby women's clothing store to be interviewed by police. The restaurant and Wal-Mart remained closed as detectives processed evidence. McMahill said the investigation is "very complex" because it involves more than 1,000 witnesses.

Sunday's killings came less than a year after the Las Vegas police department's most recent on-duty death. Officer David VanBuskirk died while rescuing a stranded hiker by helicopter on July 22, 2013.

The department has lost officers over the past decade in vehicle accidents and in an off-duty shooting, but the most recent on-duty shooting death happened Feb. 1, 2006, when Sgt. Henry Prendes was ambushed during a domestic violence call.

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