The day after a shooting left five dead, including two police officers, election candidates revealed that the suspects tried to cozy up to them during the months leading up to the primary election.
Campaign information for a gubernatorial candidate and a candidate for sheriff was reportedly found in the apartment where the shooters were staying.
Gordon Martines, a former Las Vegas police detective and candidate for Clark County sheriff, said Jerad and Amanda Miller, who died in an apparent suicide pact after the shooting rampage, tried to become involved in his campaign months ago. They began showing up for debates and campaign events so often that they were noticed.
They freely offered all the resources available to them, Martines said, which struck him as odd because he didn’t see any reason why they would be such strong backers.
Martines checked into the couple. When he discovered that Jerad Miller had a criminal history that included DUI, assault, theft and mischief charges, he asked the Millers to back off.
“I said, ‘Look, I appreciate your support but I can’t be associated in any way, shape or form with you,’ ” Martines said. He noted that from the start, there was something strange about Jerad Miller. Though he couldn’t immediately identify what it was, his gut feeling was to keep them at arm’s length.
“After a while, you can just smell it,” Martines said of the couple and their strange presence. Looking back, he said he suspects the Millers wanted to be associated with a long-time law enforcement official to add to their credibility and access to the department.
Martines said he told them to go away, but couldn’t stop them from attending campaign rallies. Jerad Miller even made an appearance at a Bundy ranch rally wearing a Martines campaign shirt, but was asked to leave due to his criminal history.
“They were just trying to infiltrate,” Martines said. “They obviously had an agenda.”
David VanDerBeek, a gubernatorial candidate for the Independent American Party of Nevada, spoke differently about the Millers. He said he met them several times during his campaign events, including when he spoke at the Bundy ranch a couple of months ago. He described the couple as “polite and friendly.”
To VanDerBeek, the Millers did not display signs of being violent or desperate — he said he would have reported that. VanDerBeek said that during campaign events, including ones the Millers attended, he has emphasized that violence would not be tolerated. He said that anyone who uses the word “revolution” cannot be a true supporter of his cause, which he describes as “restoration.”
Jerad Miller always wore camouflage, VanDerBeek recalled. He said that Miller had been kicked out by the militia at the Bundy ranch.
The only political topic VanDerBeek said Jerad Miller brought up was the legalization of all recreational drugs, which VanDerBeek doesn’t support.
VanDerBeek expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and to the community.
Sunday’s shooting impacted other sheriff’s race candidates as well. Current Assistant Sheriff and candidate Joe Lombardo put a temporary pause to his campaign. He canceled all activity Monday and Tuesday, though the election itself will take place during that span of time.
“Out of respect to the officers’ families, and the entire Department, I’m suspending campaign efforts through tomorrow’s election,” said Lombardo in a statement Monday. “We’re dealing with profound grief and my entire focus needs to be getting Metro through it. A tragedy like this forces us to put things into perspective. I still urge everyone to cast their votes, but the rallies and parties can wait.”
Lombardo was one of three speakers at a Monday morning police press conference that detailed more of the shooting investigation. He was not available for comment Monday about any contact the Millers may have had with him.
Sheriff candidate Larry Burns also suspended campaigning Monday out of respect for those who died in Sunday’s tragedy.
“We lost two brave officers and an innocent bystander,” Burns posted on his campaign website. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and colleagues, as well as everyone who was affected by this unimaginable act of violence.”
Campaign officials for sheriff’s candidate Ted Moody said that after searching through email and phone records, there was no evidence that the Millers had tried to reach out to Moody.
In political contribution databases, it does not appear that the Millers made monetary donations to any candidate.
Contact reporter Annalise Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @annaliseporter. Contact reporter Ricardo Torres at email@example.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites.