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Gillespie: Police killers planned to ambush more officers

After ambushing and executing two Las Vegas police officers eating lunch, Jerad and Amanda Miller entered a nearby Wal-Mart with five guns, armor-piercing rounds and plans for a long fight.

Carrying a bag of ready-to-eat food packets and wearing adult diapers, Jerad fired one shot into the air and said, “The revolution has started. The cops are coming. Get out.”

The sleepy Sunday morning crowd fled, except for one man. But Amanda executed armed shopper Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, after he moved to confront her husband. Wilcox, who had a concealed weapons permit, never saw her coming.

The couple moved to the back of the store and used a baseball bat from the sporting goods section to smash an ammunition case, bolstering their supply. They knew the layout of the store and were looking to ambush more officers, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a Monday press conference to reveal more details of the June 8 shooting.

The Millers were “ready to kill as many cops as they could,” Gillespie said.

Officer Brett Brosnahan, one of the first cops in the store, was nearly their next victim.

Brosnahan was following Jerad when the five-year veteran rounded a corner and came face-to-face with Amanda, Gillespie said. She fired shots at close range, but unlike the couple’s other victims, Brosnahan, 33, was ready.

He fired several shots as he backed away, striking the 22-year-old in her right shoulder. Brosnahan then left the store.

That was Amanda’s last chance to get the jump on anyone. Because of Brosnahan’s information — and his quick trigger — Sgt. Kurt McKenzie’s team knew exactly who they were dealing with.

McKenzie’s four-officer tactical unit entered the store with two officers guarding an aisle on either side of the Millers, who had settled into the automotive department to fortify their position. Jerad took the shotgun from his bag and donned a tactical vest that held extra shotgun rounds.

Because it was an active-shooter situation, there was no time to wait for SWAT, police said.

McKenzie, with just a year and a half of experience as a supervisor, tried to negotiate a peaceful surrender. But Jerad wasn’t in the negotiating mood.

“Stand down. You have failed. I’m in charge now,” he yelled at the cops, Gillespie said.

The Millers traded gunfire with police for about 15 minutes, pulling items from shelves to strengthen their defense. But Amanda had been disabled by Brosnahan, and the revolution didn’t last very long.

Jerad died from a .223-caliber rifle shot fired by an officer. Either officer Timothy Gross or Zack Beal fired the shot, Gillespie said, but because the bullet fragmented, investigators aren’t sure who ended Jerad’s life.

Amanda shot herself in the head. She died at a hospital.

In all, the Millers fired 36 rounds. The officers fired 16.

“Even as much stress as they were in, knowing full well that two of their fellow officers lay shot… they were still able to implement a plan and contain these subjects,” Gillespie said.

All the Millers’ guns were legally bought by Amanda in Indiana, aside from the two handguns they stole from slain officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31.

Beck and Soldo were eating lunch at CiCi’s Pizza at 309 N. Nellis Blvd., near Stewart Avenue, when they were ambushed by the Millers about 11:20 a.m.

The two were motivated by an extremist right-wing ideology and went to Cliven Bundy’s Bunkerville ranch in April, hoping for a revolution. They briefly joined militia members protesting the federal government’s removal of Bundy’s livestock but were kicked off the ranch because of Jerad’s felony convictions in Indiana.

They moved to Las Vegas from Indiana in January. Jerad dressed as comic book characters for tips on the Strip and on Fremont Street.

He often ranted against the government in YouTube videos and in Facebook posts.

It’s still not clear why the Millers picked Beck and Soldo. Gillespie said the couple acted alone.

“You always think you’ve dealt with the worst. You’ve always think you’ve heard the worst. But I must tell you all, it was a new day for me on June the eighth,” he said.

After the killings, Jerad draped a Gadsden flag on one of the officer’s bodies. The Revolutionary War flag and its slogan, “Don’t Tread on Me,” was adopted by the Tea Party movement.

It was Metro’s ninth officer-involved this year. Six of those were fatal.

Sgt. McKenzie and officers Gross 49, Beal, 25, and Brosnahan are on paid, routine administrative leave while the investigation continues. A public fact-finding hearing will be held, although no date has been set.

Gillespie said the officers were heroes.

“They walked into what the suspects hoped would be a second ambush situation. I am so proud of the way they responded to the store and expertly handled the situation,” he said.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Find him on Twitter: @blasky. Contact Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281. Find him on Twitter: @HaynesinVegas.

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