LAS VEGAS — They were happily married and unhappily American.
Six months ago, Jerad and Amanda Miller left home in Indiana on a cross-country road trip with their two cats to start a new life alongside the endless neon enticements of Las Vegas.
Amanda Miller, 22, had a part-time job at Hobby Lobby; Jerad Miller, 31, dressed up as comic-book heroes like Thor and Captain America for tips from tourists. He would often dress as Batman or the Joker; she would sometimes accompany him dressed as the villain Harley Quinn.
Jerad Miller had attended Kennewick High for one semester in 1999 and had racked up several convictions in Washington state more than a decade ago.
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On Sunday, Jerad and Amanda Miller’s young marriage ended in a barrage of gunfire after the couple, shouting messages of anti-government revolution, ambushed and executed two policemen in an eastern Las Vegas pizzeria and, minutes later, killed another man in a nearby Wal-Mart who had tried to stop their rampage.
Then, as officers closed in, police said Amanda Miller turned her gun on her husband and shot him several times, fatally, before putting the gun to her own head and pulling the trigger.
The couple had stayed with a friend until about 5:45 a.m. that day, when Jerad Miller brought out swastikas and an Army insignia and said: “I’m going to put one of those on every cop we kill,” neighbor Kelly Fielder told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
“I should have called the cops,” Fielder said. “I feel I have the deaths of five people on my shoulders. The signs were there.”
Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, were killed as they sat eating lunch at CiCi’s Pizza at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday. Officials said the suspects entered through the rear of the restaurant and opened fire.
Jerad Miller, 31, then covered the officers with a symbolic Gadsden flag — a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t Tread on Me” — and placed a manifesto with a swastika symbol on one officer’s body, according to police officials speaking at a morning news conference. The flag, which dates from the American Revolution, has been adopted by some ultraconservative and libertarian groups.
Amid the pandemonium, Joseph Wilcox, 31, who had been in the checkout line, approached Jerad Miller brandishing a weapon, police said. Amanda Miller pulled a pistol out of her purse and fatally shot him in the midsection, the police said.
“He died attempting to protect others,” Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said of Wilcox.
Police officers soon entered the Wal-Mart and, after several exchanges of gunfire, surrounded the Millers in the back of the store. Amanda Miller had been shot, the police said, and Jerad Miller used items from the store to build a makeshift wall to give them cover. Before a SWAT team arrived, however, Amanda Miller fired several shots at her husband, killing him, then shot herself.
“We believe this is an isolated act,” said Kevin McMahill, an assistant sheriff with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. But, he added, “There is no doubt that the suspects have some apparent ideology that’s along the lines of militia and white supremacists,” including the belief that law enforcement was the “oppressor.”
The Millers arrived in Las Vegas about four months ago, according to Larry Burnette, a neighbor at the Oak Tree Apartments where they all lived.
When the Millers learned of the recent standoff between federal officials and Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, whose defiance of federal grazing fees became a lightning rod for armed libertarians amid media reports earlier this year, the couple traveled to the site, Burnette said.
“At first he was OK, then the Bundy Ranch thing happened and things changed,” Burnette said. “Him and his wife went out there carrying guns. I tried to tell them not to go, but they were so against the police. They wanted the cops to go away and leave the Bundys alone.”
Fielder said the Millers moved in with her about three weeks before the rampage “because they said they wanted the government to find their apartment intact.”
McMahill said that the police believe the Millers may have moved in with Fielder in recent weeks because their own apartment had become unsanitary.
Fielder, 42, said she met the couple when she moved into the apartment complex in April. “They were my next-door neighbors,” she said, adding that she took to Amanda Miller, whom she called a “beautiful young girl from the countryside. Her grandmother owned horses.”
She said Jerad Miller was hateful, especially toward people with liberal politics.
“He was angry at the government. He was hellaciously mad at [President] Obama and anyone who was on food stamps. She was a good girl who would do anything to make her man happy. But he was not a nice person. No, not at all.”
She said that she considered kicking them out, but that she liked Amanda: “What am I going to do? They were friends of mine.”
During the standoff at the Bundy ranch, the trio drove to Bunkerville, Nev., for three days, Fielder said. “I slept in the front of their trucks, and they slept in the back. After a few days, I said I had to go home. I had my own drama in my own life.”
They were back at the apartment complex a few days later.
“He got kicked off because he was a felon,” Fielder said. “Jerad was really upset. They said he was a felon and couldn’t own guns. He told me he was on-call as a militiaman there.”
Jerad Miller, 31, was convicted of felony vehicle theft, phone harassment, driving under the influence and malicious mischief, between 2001 and 2003, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Court records released Monday by Benton County District Court detailed some of his offenses. They included taking a car that belonged to a friend’s parents in 2001 and driving in it to a grocery store where he stole beer.
A citation for assault in 2002 shows that Jerad Miller was living at the Richland home where he had taken the car from the year before. By then he was working at a J.C. Penney department store.
In late 2002, he made harassing telephone calls to an unidentified victim, saying, “Your son is a dead man, Cliff you are going to die,” a complaint said.
Several of the offenses garnered Jerad Miller yearlong sentences, with all but a few days suspended.
On his Facebook page, Jerad Miller said that he attended Kennewick High School. He posted several pictures of the Bible and of Elvis Presley, as well as pictures of a gold-plated semiautomatic gun that belonged to the singer and was on display at an Elvis museum in Las Vegas.
In his news feed, he shared an anti-government cartoon that pokes fun at domestic spying and drones, and wrote in the caption, “Do you think anyone recognizes the nation D.C. hath made?”
A note on the page dated June 7 — one day before the attack — said: “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”
Amanda Miller’s father said Monday he begged his daughter not to marry the man who was obsessed with far-right-wing movements like Patriot Nation.
“She was my sunshine and now she’s gone, and I just don’t think that I’ll be able to get over it,” said Todd Woodruff, 48, of Lafayette, Ind. “That son of a bitch took my sunshine. He ought to be glad he’s dead or else I’m chasing him down.”
A 2011 Facebook post revealed a darker side of Amanda, in which she warned that “the people of the world” are “lucky I can’t kill you now but remember one day I will get you because one day all hell will break loose and I’ll be standing in the middle of it with a shotgun in one hand and a pistol in the other.”
Woodruff said he last spoke to his daughter Friday, after an exchange of online messages.
“I talked to her Friday for the first time in about a month and she seemed happy and fine and everything,” he said. “And then the police show up at 7 o’clock this morning and told us what happened.”
Compiled from The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press and The New York Times