Before going on a shooting rampage that left five people dead, including two Las Vegas police officers and themselves, Jerad and Amanda Miller displayed the classic ideological leanings of the anti-government patriot movement, according to nationally known experts who track extremist groups.
Their ambush of officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo was the latest in a growing number of shootouts, some deadly, between right-wing extremists and law enforcement authorities, the experts say.
“It’s showing no sign of slowing down,” said Mark Pitcavage, the widely known top researcher for the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s almost inevitable there will be more confrontations between right-wing extremists, and law enforcement needs to be prepared for that.”
Since 2009, there have been 43 incidents of violence between domestic extremists and law enforcement and 38 of them involved people advocating anti-government or white supremacist ideology, Pitcavage said.
Two days before the Las Vegas shootings, a man who had anti-government leanings was killed outside a Georgia courthouse in a shootout with a sheriff’s deputy. The man, Dennis Marx, had planned to lay siege to the courthouse.
Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., said attacks on police officers are ideologically driven. “They view officers as agents of a fascist government, and they target them because of it,” she said.
“Patriot movement groups have gathered strength following the April stand-off between Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia supporters and law enforcement officers,” Beirich explained.
“With the combustible situation that sprung up at the Bundy ranch, those people felt like they won,” Beirich said. “They pulled guns on cops and nothing happened. It has completely galvanized and emboldened them.”
Militia groups, sovereign citizens and tax protesters, who all share anti-government beliefs, make up the patriot movement across the country.
Pitcavage said the Internet writings of the Millers before their deaths put them in the militia segment of the movement, which believes a tyrannical new world order is taking over and martial law and concentration camps are coming.
In a blog on the Anti-Defamation League’s website Monday, Pitcavage pointed to Jared Miller’s chilling, final Facebook post prior to Sunday’s shootings. It read, “The dawn of a new day. May all of our sacrifices be worth it.”
Pitcavage said Miller’s web postings in his last few months showed his growing “radicalization.”
In March, Miller declared he had “compromised enough” and was “prepared to die” for his convictions about freedom and tyranny, Pitcavage wrote.
Then, according to Pitcavage, Miller traveled to the scene of the Bundy stand-off hoping that it “could be the next Waco and start of (the) revolution.”
By May, Miller claimed “there is no greater cause to die for than liberty” and that he and his wife were “willing to sacrifice everything.”
Pitcavage said it’s likely the Millers committed the executions without the help of others in the anti-government movement.
“In most cases, it turns out there are not any additional conspirators,” he explained.
Beirich, who described the Millers as domestic terrorists, is not surprised that violent clashes between right wing extremists and police are on the rise.
The country has witnessed historic highs in the number of extremist groups since Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, was first elected in 2008, Beirich said. The number has risen from 140 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012, then slipping down to 1,096 last year.
To curb the trend of violence, Beirich said, law enforcement authorities need to watch extremist groups that commit acts of domestic terrorism as vigilantly as they watch al-Qaida on the international front.
Local police departments also need to provide more training to help officers recognize extremist activity and do a better job of sharing information with state and federal law enforcement agencies, Pitcavage added.
An Anti-Defamation League representative spent time in Las Vegas in May offering training on the tactics and criminal activities of extremist groups, he said.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.