WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
You know that shootings in the U.S. are becoming too popular that when I say the "Las Vegas Shootings" I have to say no, the other one. The more well-known Las Vegas shooting occurred in October of 2017, but this event was a completely separate shooting in the same city, 3 and a half years earlier.
On June 8, 2014, weirdo couple Jerad and Amanda Miller went on a shooting spree that resulted in 5 deaths, including their own. The couple was extremely anti-government and killed 2 police officers because of those views, before killing an armed civilian who attempted to intervene.
Jerad was killed by police, and Amanda committed suicide after being shot and wounded.
THE KILLER COUPLE (1)
Jerad Miller was born on January 3, 1983 in Kennewick, Washington. He was 31 at the time of his death. His criminal record began in 2001 and only grew from there. He was sentenced to a diversion program in 2007 after pleading guilty to a felony criminal recklessness charge.
The diversion program did not work in in 2009, he was arrested and charged with battery, but not convicted. In 2011, he was sentenced to drug counseling and probation after being charged with felony drug charges.
He met Amanda Woodruff in 2011 and they married the same year. Jerad did not hold a steady job and in fact, at the time of the shooting he was a street performer. Swoon.
Earlier in the same year of the shootings, Jerad threatened a BMV office in Indiana, threatening to kill anyone who showed up to arrest him for his suspended driver's license. He was known to constantly talk about conspiracy theories and his hatred of the federal government, specifically Barack Obama. He wore a lot of camouflage, followed the anti-police brutality group Cop Block, and posted a lot of conspiracy theories and anti-government rhetoric online.
He had active Facebook and YouTube accounts where he ranted and posted videos, talking about needing to prepare for war. He believed that the only way to stop oppression was through bloodshed, though it is not exactly clear who's oppression he is referring to.
A month before the shooting, he asked some Facebook friends to send him a rifle for standing against tyranny, and posted the day before the shooting, "may all of our coming sacrifices be worth it".
Amanda Woodruff was born on December 27, 1991 in Indiana and was 22 at the time of her death. Before the shootings, she did not have any criminal record.
Despite having no criminal record, she shared something with Jerad, and that was an affinity for posting on Facebook. Though she wasn't as outwardly anti-government on her Facebook, she was outwardly super in to super-villians. She posted some questionable posts about murder, such as "one day I will get you because 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", which is certainly alarming.
The cover photo for this article is the loving couple dressed up as a terrible couple, Harley Quinn and the Joker, and their neighbor said that they were always dressing up as different characters.
The couple was present at the 2014 Bundy standoff, in which the Bureau of Land Management tried to round up cattle belonging to a rancher who refused to vacate the public land. Jerad was one of the armed protesters who was on the side of the rancher, Cilven Bundy.
Bundy's son claimed that Amanda and Jerad had come to the standoff for a few days, but had been asked to leave because their radical beliefs did not align with the main issue of the protest, and because Jerad brought a gun. Jerad claimed that he did not want violence towards any federal agents, but if they brought violence, they would be violent right back.
THE MOTIVE AND THE SHOOTINGS (1)
Jerad's true motive for any violence was a strong hatred for law enforcement and police in general. He made many videos detailing that hatred, claiming they could not be trusted, while dressed up as the Joker. He claimed the US government was oppressive, criticized gun control and surveillance measures, and condemned their treatment of Cilven Bundy.
Friends of the couple said that they idolized Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the high school shooters from the 1999 Columbine Shootings, and wanted to follow in their footsteps. (My first thought is that it is pretty lame to have your idol be 2 murderers over 10 years younger than you. My second thought is... friends? Would you consider someone who idolized high school shooters your friends?)
Though being against police brutality and government oppression might lead you to believe they were not racist, surprise, they were white supremacists. While some believe that the swastika they placed on the body of one of their victims was because they were associating the police officers with nazism, it could have also been because of their white supremacist ideologies. Or a little bit of both.
Ultimately, they wanted to limit the federal government. They considered the outcome of the Bundy Standoff, which was peacefully deescalated, a "huge victory against the federal government" and may have been their motivation for the murders.
On June 8, 2014, the killer couple walked to CiCi's Pizza at 11:22 AM and found 2 Las Vegas police officers, Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, eating there on their lunch break. They had observed the restaurant before the shooting, likely to confirm that viable targets would be there.
With no warning or notice at all, Jerad shot Soldo in the back of the head and then shot Beck in the throat. Beck tried to fire back at the shooters, but both Millers began shooting at him. They dragged their bodies out of their booth, draping a Gadsden flag (don't tread on me) and a swastika on then. They pinned a note on Soldo's body claiming "This is the beginning of the revolution", also loudly yelling that to the rest of the restaurant. They stole the officer's guns and ammunition and fled to WalMart.
(Sidenote: Starting a revolution in a CiCi's pizza reminds me of the quote from The Office where Pam says "I feel God in this Chili's tonight.")
Anyway, taking their revolution to the next worst place to start a revolution, Walmart, they began shooting at the ceiling and ordering shoppers to leave. Joseph Wilcox, legally carrying a 9mm Glock 19 confronted Jerad, but did not realize Amanda was his accomplice, and she shot and killed him.
Police were alerted that they were shooting at the shore and they arrived. Amanda was shot and wounded during the shootout. They moved to the back of the store, using various items to form a barricade. During the shootout, however, Jerad was fatally shot, and Amanda shot herself in the head. She was taken to the hospital, but died there.
It appeared, upon further investigation, that the CiCi's and Walmart plan was just the beginning, because at the Millers' apartment, papers and detailed plans to take over the courthouse and execute public officials were found. Somehow, instead of at the courthouse, they ended up at a super average pizza buffet.
REACTIONS AND AFTERMATH
Interior Secretary Sally Jewel made a statement after the shootings, but attributed much of their carnage to be a result of the Bundy standoff, where she claimed that Bundy calling people from all over the country to stand up for him (or her? I'm not sure what kind of name Cilven is and simply don't want to look into it) had "put our people in grave danger". (1)
U.S. Democratic Senator Harry Reid, who had a staff member related to one of the deceased, publicly mourned the loss of the officers and called for universal background checks for the purchase of firearms. There was overall an outpouring of support and love for the victims and their families. CiCi's and Walmart issued statements of condolences and cooperated with police throughout the investigation. (1)
Wilcox was considered a hero, attempting to protect others and unintentionally sacrificing himself to do it. His death sparked debate over concealed carry and its effectiveness. In many studies, the "good guy with a gun" is simply a myth, and more people carrying guns isn't shown to have a real impact on crime in a negative way. This example is probably the closest a good guy with a gun got to stopping a bad guy with a gun, but unfortunately, he lost his life in the process. (1)
Facebook also came under fire after the killings, as the killers received some public praise for the murders of the officers. Anti-police posts were running rampant, and there was criticism of the lack of response to it. (1)
Igor Soldo had been with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since April of 2006. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was a huge Cornhuskers fan. He worked in the Patrol Division and the Problem-Solving Unit, was a Firearms Instructor for 5 years, and taught several academies. He moved from Bosnia to Nebraska when he was young to leave the war behind and build a better life. He loved reading and was passionate about learning. (2)
Igor was married to Andrea Soldo, whom he met while they worked as correctional officers at Lancaster County Jail. They had an infant son together named Logan. The weekend after he died, he was supposed to go home to Lincoln, Nebraska to celebrate his son's first birthday with his parents, siblings and friends. (3)
His mother remembers him as a wonderful child, husband and father. (3)
Alyn Beck had been with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 2001 and worked on various assignments. He became a Field Training Officer in 2006, and became an Academy Training Instructor in 2007. He was tough and tenacious and moved through the ranks, working to become a sergeant. (4) But despite that tenacious spirit, he was known as being a big softy with a kind, compassionate heart. (5)
He was a police officer first and foremost while on the job, but at home, was a dedicated husband and father of 3. His wife, Nicole, was his best friend, and he adored his son Daxton and daughters Avenlee and Katriann. He worked with the youth in the community, was active in his church, and maintained close friendships with neighbors. He was at his best while serving others. (5)
His family says they will remember him for his kind heart, sense of humor, intelligence, and devout love for the Lord. (5)
Joseph Wilcox's family, his parents and 3 siblings, were overwhelmed with sadness when they heard what happened, but weren't shocked that the man they always considered a hero died trying to save the lives of others. His sister, C.J. and his mom remembered how funny, thoughtful and silly Joseph was, and how protective he was over his family. In fact, he wanted to turn that protection into a profession and become a police officer. (6)
His loving family is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he is gone. He used to be gone taking his sister to the movies or out four-wheeling with friends but this time, he isn't coming back. Despite their grief, they were extremely thankful for phone calls and letters hailing their sweet son and brother as a hero, and are thankful to get to remember him as someone who would do anything for someone in need. (6)
Today, there is still unrest between citizens and the police, the government and those who they control. As protests and conversations around the senseless murder of George Floyd continue, the distrust black Americans, and Americans as a whole, have in police is at an all-time high. Alternatively, however, it doesn't really seem like the Millers were shooting police officers because of any specific injustices that had been recently committed, or that they had specifically committed... They were just anti-government nuts.
In today's world, saying "Black Lives Matter" can be seen as saying "the lives of police don't". And saying that there are fundamental issues inside of the American police force can be misconstrued as believing that all cops are racist monsters. Believing that further specialized training is needed to be a police officer in the U.S. today should not be a contentious viewpoint.
All of this to say... I have asked that those who are vocally pro-police step across a divide that should not be there and speak out against and recognize what is objectively wrong: the murder of an unarmed black man. And in doing so, I also must step across and speak out against what is objectively wrong: the murder of a police officer. Obviously, these cops did not die in any race-related issue, but my point is that believing that black lives matter and believing that cops shouldn't be killed should be able to exist simultaneously.
I hope for better training, perhaps better screening, and better regulations moving forward that are able to mitigate police brutality. But I personally would never wish for the deaths of innocent police officers. The 2 men killed 6 years ago today were adored sons, loving husbands, and doting fathers. They put their community above all else and were involved in the training and very core of the police department. To be anything but saddened by their death is, to me, absurd.
And though I personally do not wish to own a gun, and believe strongly in common sense gun regulations, Joseph Wilcox was legally carrying a gun and sacrificed himself to save other people. He died trying to save others, and there is something to be said for that.
Jerad and Amanda Miller were terrible people who allowed the beliefs that they should have kept on Facebook to come to the real world, and 3 people are dead because of it. The world is a better, safer place now that this horrible Joker and Harley Quinn duo are no longer in it.