Shooters hoped to inspire 'revolution'
They were the Bonnie and Clyde of America's lunatic militant fringe - and were determined to go down in a blaze of gunfire.
The couple that gunned down two police officers having lunch in a Las Vegas pizza joint and killed an armed bystander who tried to intervene were hoping to inspire an anti-government revolution, according to police, their social media accounts and local media reports.
Police identified the shooters as Jerad Miller, a 31-year-old convicted felon, and his wife, Amanda Miller, 22. Neighbours say they had openly boasted of their anti-government, anti-police ideology.
"They were going to kill as many officers as they can and then do away with themselves," neighbour Krista Koch, who hadn't realised they were serious, told KTNV-TV. "They said they didn't believe in the government, the cops, the feds - anything - and they just wanted to get rid of as many as they can."
'WE'RE FREEDOM FIGHTERS'
Over the weekend they finally put their ominous plan into action.
"The dawn of a new day," Miller wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. "May all our coming sacrifices be worth it."
On Sunday, police say, they stormed CiCi Pizza, where officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, were having lunch. Jerad Miller walked by and shot Soldo in the back of the head with a handgun, killing him immediately. Then the Millers turned on Beck, who returned fire but was killed by multiple gunshot wounds.
"This is a revolution!" one of them yelled. "We're freedom fighters!"
The couple dragged both bodies out of the booth and onto the floor, draping a flag featuring the words "Don't Tread on Me" and a swastika over Beck's body, police said.
They pinned a note on Soldo's body that declared, "This is the beginning of the revolution".
The duo then grabbed the officers’ weapons and fled to the Walmart, bursting into the store and yelling some more about the start of the revolution.
Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, was at the checkout and heard the commotion.
"He was carrying a concealed weapon, and he immediately and heroically moved toward the position of Jared Miller," Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters.
But Wilcox didn't realise the gunman wasn't alone. As he confronted Jared Miller, his wife fatally shot Wilcox in the chest.
The couple exchanged fire with police and retreated to the rear of the store. They were wounded and barricaded inside when Amanda Miller killed her spouse and then shot herself, police said. She was still breathing when police arrived but was pronounced dead at the hospital.
BATTLING THE OPPRESSOR
McMahill said the two suspects believed that law enforcement was the "oppressor".
Indeed, they left behind a social media trail that left no doubt about that.
"There is no greater cause to die for than liberty," Jerad Miller wrote on his Facebook page on May 2. "To die for that cause is easy to life for it is another matter. Death, is the easy way out. Most notably is the 'suicide by cop' routine."
On conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones' website Infowars.com, Jared Miller had been a prolific poster, pondering whether it was OK to kill law enforcement officers.
He was upset because he was arrested after selling marijuana to his friends, and now couldn't get a job or afford dental care for his rotting teeth.
"For the most part, I’m a law abiding citizen," Jared Miller wrote in May 2012. "I believe in Gods law. You know the ones. Dont steal, dont murder, etc. I fear that if they came, even with a warrant, that I feel they are being unlawfull and infringing upon my rghts. I feel that I have been violated and tread upon. That the so called justice system has done me harm. I do not wish to kill police. I understand that most of them believe they are doing the right thing. Yet, I will not go to jail, because I have not committed a crime!"
Six days before the rampage, he posted to his Facebook account that bloodshed was necessary to stop oppression.
“We can hope for peace. We must, however, prepare for war," he wrote. "We face an enemy that is not only well funded, but who believe they fight for freedom and justice. … We, cannot with good conscience leave this fight to our children, because the longer we wait, our enemies become better equipped and recruit more mercenaries of death, willing to do a tyrants bidding without question. I know you are fearful, as am I. We certainly stand before a great and powerful enemy. I, however would rather die fighting for freedom, than live on my knees as a slave.”
They also made a point of dressing up as the Batman villain the Joker and his sidekick, Harley Quinn. Jared Miller would also dress as the Slender Man, the creepy internet meme that apparently inspired a stabbing in Wisconsin last week.
A YouTube video channel that Jerad Miller established consists mostly of footage of his cats and of himself crying and asking his wife to visit him in jail.
Local government records from Indiana’s Tippecanoe County show Jerad Miller was charged with felony possession of marijuana in 2010. Police said he was also convicted of vehicle theft offenses in Washington state.
THIRD RAMPAGE IN A WEEK
The Millers' shooting spree was the third in North America in five days.
On Wednesday, a 24-year-old Canadian who had posted angry rants about law enforcement and gun control on social media shot allegedly shot and killed three Mounties and wounded two others.
A few hours before the shootings, Jason Bourque posted an ominous set of lyrics to Megadeath's anti-censorship song Hook in Mouth.
“You say you’ve got the answers, well who asked you anyway? Ever think maybe it was meant to be this way?” it said. “Don’t try to fool us, we know the worst is yet to come. I believe my kingdom will come."
Then on Thursday, Aaron Rey Ybarra, a 26-year-old who had struggled with mental health issues, burst into Seattle Pacific University armed with a shotgun, a hunting knife and more than 50 rounds of ammunition. He killed one student and wounded two others before a fourth student, Jon Meis, pepper-sprayed and then tackled the gunman when he paused to reload.
Ybarra was not a student at the university and chose it for no particular reason, a law enforcement source told the Seattle Times. He just had a “fascination with mass shootings" and told police he wanted “to kill as many people as possible before killing himself".
Public defender Ramona Brandes said her client was unaware of what he was doing until he heard a girl screaming.
“Mr. Ybarra has long-standing mental-health issues that were in play,” Brandes told the Seattle Times. “He is feeling very remorseful about the pain he has caused these families and these victims. He offers them his apologies.”