They painted themselves like clowns of anarchy and took to the web to spew threats and violent fantasies about gunning down police officers.
Jerad Miller was the one with the rap sheet, but in the end it was his wife, Amanda, who fired the final shots.
But for all the evidence they left behind, the killers’ precise motives remain unclear, though police said they appear to have acted alone.
Kelley Fielder lived next door to the Millers in a small downtown apartment complex and considered them her “best friends.” When they were forced out of their apartment, she let them crash in hers.
The best she could say Monday was she didn’t know they were “that crazy.”
Jerad, 31, and Amanda, 22, were loaded for a long fight when they left the apartment at 110 South Bruce St. early Sunday morning. Police said they told neighbors they planned to murder cops.
“He knew he wasn’t going to survive that day,” an official with knowledge of the investigation said of Jerad Miller. “Cops were going to die, and he was going to die.”
The two Las Vegas police officers they chose, seemingly at random, had stopped for lunch at CiCi’s Pizza restaurant in northeast Las Vegas, about four miles from the Millers’ apartment.
After gunning down Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, the couple ran into the Wal-Mart across the street, killed a shopper who confronted them with his own gun, and then shot it out with officers before taking their own lives.
Security cameras at CiCi’s and Wal-Mart captured almost everything. The recordings have not been made public.
The rampage started at about 11:22 a.m. and lasted less than half an hour. When it was over, police catalogued the small arsenal and survival gear the Millers carried in two bags: a shotgun and four handguns, including the two taken from Beck and Soldo, about 200 rounds of ammunition, knives, first aid supplies, camouflage clothing and military-issued rations the couple never got to eat.
A DEADLY MISSION
At a news conference Monday, Metro officials filled in many of the details and clarified some initial reports. Contrary to what was said immediately after the attacks, for example, neither of the two officers nor Joseph Robert Wilcox, the Las Vegas man killed inside Wal-Mart, ever got off a shot. The only woman killed was Amanda Miller.
Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said it all began when Jerad Miller walked into the pizza parlor and quickly left, returning moments later with Amanda in tow.
“They walked past our officers, who were eating lunch in one of the booths, and immediately upon passing them, Jerad Miller pulled a handgun out and shot officer Soldo one time in the back of his head,” McMahill said.
Officer Beck tried to engage the couple, but was shot in the throat before he could pull a trigger, McMahill said. The Millers then shot him several times more.
The suspects pulled the officers from the booth and covered Beck with a Gadsen Flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t Tread on Me,” and threw a swastika on him. One of them then pinned a note to Soldo’s body that “basically stated that this is the beginning of a revolution,” McMahill said.
The exact contents of the note have not been made public by Metro.
Once the two entered the Wal-Mart, Jerad fired a single shot and repeated his call for revolution.
Wilcox, 31, was near the cash registers when he saw events unfolding. He was armed with gun of his own, and told a friend he was going to do something.
As he moved to confront Jerad Miller, Wilcox passed Amanda, not realizing the two were together. She slipped behind Wilcox and shot him at close range.
Within minutes more Metro officers arrived on the scene in response to 911 calls. McMahill said they initially blocked the back door with a patrol car. After Jerad Miller shot the door from the inside to open it, a five-officer team entered and exchanged gunfire with the couple.
The shooting raged in the store’s automotive section, spilling oil and antifreeze onto the floor. The two were hiding behind items Jerad Miller had stacked around them for protection, but Amanda was hit by a bullet during the firefight, McMahill said.
Pinned down by police and blocked from all exits, Jerad layed down in front of Amanda, and she shot him several times. Then she shot herself in the head.
Jerad was seen moving, but died at the scene. Amanda showed signs of life and was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The Clark County coroner’s office on Monday said that Beck and Soldo both died from multiple gunshot wounds. Wilcox and Jerad Miller died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Amanda Miller, whose name was not formally released, died from a gunshot wound to the head. Hers was the only death ruled suicide.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said he was proud of his officers for their quick response in the face of imminent danger, knowing that two of their own had already fallen.
“The families of the officers are dealing with the loss of their loved ones. And our police department family is trying to cope with the deaths as well,” Gillespie said.
He called Wilcox’s death “senseless.”
“Joseph died attempting to protect others,” he said.
The couple may have been planning a larger assault on an unidentified court building.
Police found documents the couple left behind in Fielder’s apartment that included detailed plans to take over an unidentified courthouse and execute public officials. The file box full of documents, along with three empty rifle cases and an empty box for handcuffs, were confiscated by officers, who used an explosive charge to blow open an apartment door in the Millers’ complex.
Reports of the killers’ plans prompted officials at the Regional Justice Center to adopt “a heightened state of security,” with added personnel and “other measures,” said Court Information Officer Mary Ann Price. She declined to say more because “part of our preparedness is not giving out a lot of details.”
Though the only known assailants are dead, valley police also have reacted with caution. Metro and Henderson police are both doubling up with two officers in each patrol car. Metro is also putting plain-clothes officers in uniform as a show of force and solidarity.
For the time being, there were will be 300 to 350 Metro officers on patrol, rather than the usual 150.
McMahill described Sunday’s incident as “an isolated attack,” but said they are still investigating possible ties to militia and hate groups.
Investigators initially interpreted the Millers’ actions as indications of white supremacist ideology or association with a Nazi movement. On Monday police said the swastika and other paraphernalia instead reflected the couple’s views that police are fascists and governments tyrannical.
BUNDY RANCH VISIT
As part of that investigation, Metro is looking at an April visit to Cliven Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville, where the Millers hoped to join a militia standoff with federal agents who were trying to remove the embattled cattleman’s livestock from federal land.
On Facebook, Jerad Miller said the ranch was “under siege,” and he hoped to help save Bundy and his family from “Federal Government slaughter.”
Reno television station KRNV interviewed a camouflage-clad Miller near the ranch, and he said he didn’t want violence but was prepared to respond if federal agents “come and bring violence to us.”
Later, on his Google+ account, he posted that he and Amanda “sold everything” they had and quit their jobs to join the Bundys’ fight, but they were shunned by the group because of his felony convictions.
“As far as I am concerned my government is a fascist enemy,” he wrote. “My family has bled for this nation and our freedoms and I will not let their sacrifice go unanswered without my own sacrifice.”
Cliven Bundy told the Review-Journal he didn’t recognize the Millers from their pictures on television Monday, but “we do think they were here for a period of time.”
“I definitely didn’t have any association with them except maybe meeting them,” he said by telephone, noting there were thousands of supporters at rallies held before and after the April 12 standoff.
“I didn’t have anything to do with running them off the ranch,” he said. “There are some indications the militia said they should leave, and there is some indication they had been talking radical-type things although I don’t have any personal information on that.”
He said he has twice contacted Metro since the shootings, including an email late Sunday offering condolences and promising to cooperate with the investigation in any way he can.
A CRIMINAL PAST
Jerad Dwain Miller had a lengthy criminal history dating back at least to 2000 that saw him in and out of jail on felony and misdemeanor charges in both Washington state and in his home state of Indiana.
In 2010 and 2007 he was convicted of drug dealing and possession charges related to marijuana.
Jerad Miller was arrested by Tippecanoe County, Ind., police on a battery charge in 2009 but later found not guilty.
In February 2011, he was arrested on a strangulation battery charge in Dearborn County, Ind., though the result of that case is unclear.
He married Amanda Woodruff in September 2012, according to court records in Lafayette, Ind.
Jerad Miller also was no stranger to police in Benton County, Wash. District Court records there show he was convicted of obstructing a public officer and DUI in August 2002. In April of that year he was found guilty of assault with intent to cause injury, and also had earlier convictions for third-degree malicious mischief, third-degree theft, harassment and taking a motor vehicle without permission.
An apparent relative of Jerad Miller with an address in Richland, Wash., did not answer calls Monday.
A man who answered the phone at the home of a relative in Lafayette, Ind., said “at this time there is no comment.”
Amanda Miller does not appear to have a criminal record, but she may have been asking for one. In a post on her Facebook page from May 23, 2011, she wrote: “to the people in the world…your lucky i can’t kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose and i’ll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other.”
Someone who answered the phone at her family home in Lafayette quickly hung up on a reporter.
The Lafayette Journal & Courier interviewed a woman who lived across from the Millers prior to their move to Las Vegas in January.
Connie Kennedy said the first time she met Jerad Miller, he ranted about pollution and America turning communist.
“He was just weird, really weird,” she told the newspaper.
In January the Millers were interviewed by federal law enforcement officers after they threatened to “shoot up” a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Indiana, according to a law enforcement official in Las Vegas.
In Las Vegas, the two were known to dress up as comic-book characters and pose with tourists for tips on Fremont Street. They can be seen in photos made up as the Joker and his girlfriend, Harley Quinn, from the Batman series. Jerad also recorded a rambling YouTube video dressed as the Joker.
Rambling and adamant was his style.
A bookstore owner said he had a run-in with the Millers just days before the murders when they came into his shop looking for the dystopian novel “Animal Farm.”
Academy Fine Books owner Gary Frick said he got caught in a short but dramatic debate with Jerad.
Frick said the hot-headed 31-year-old covered everything from Bundy to the Declaration of Independence to the morality of pornography, guns and drugs in a span of less than 15 minutes. He kept misquoting things and incorrectly using words, Frick said, all the while sounding very sure of himself.
And he didn’t like when the bookstore owner pushed back.
“He liked to argue, but he didn’t want to be argued with,” Frick said.
Amanda didn’t want to argue either, and kept pulling on Jerad’s arm, saying “Come on, come on, let’s go.”
When the pair finally left the shop — without “Animal Farm,” which wasn’t in stock — Jerad yelled over his shoulder multiple times, “You better re-read the Constitution, buddy!”
When Frick saw the news Sunday he immediately thought of the couple, and wasn’t surprised when they were identified on Monday.
“He was exactly like his video rants show,” Frick said.
Jerad Miller’s Facebook page, peppered with several pro-gun rights posts, showed a growing distaste for government.
In early May, Jerad Miller posted a statement foreshadowing Sunday’s attack:
“There is no greater cause to die for than liberty. To die for that cause is easy, to live for it is another matter. I will willingly die for liberty. Death, in a sense is freedom from tyranny. Death, is the easy way out. Most notably is the ‘suicide by cop’ routine. Yes, standing before despots is dangerous and most likely does not end well for you. I know this, my wife knows this. Soon they will come for us, because they don’t like what we think, and what we say. They don’t like the fact that we, simply will not submit to fascist rule. We don’t have much, but we are willing to sacrifice everything…….for you, for your freedoms. Even if you wouldn’t let us have ours. We know who we are and what we stand for, do you?”
On June 3, after Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of a domestic terrorism task force, Miller posted, “Well if you have been waiting for the thought police, here they are.”
Jerad Miller’s last post on the social media site, time-stamped at 4 a.m. Saturday reads: “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifice be worth it.”
Reporters Ben Botkin, Rachel Crosby, Keith Rogers, Colton Lochhead and Ricardo Torres contributed to this report. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @blasky on Twitter. Contact Contact Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe.
See a YouTube video in which Jerad Miller is interviewed during the standoff earlier this year at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.