LAS VEGAS --The couple who ambushed two Las Vegas cops and killed a civilian in a nearby Walmart store were a husband and wife team who may have been involved in right wing anti-government groups, police said today.
Police also said the civilian who was killed was carrying a concealed gun and moved to confront the man who opened fire in the Walmart store, but he walked past the gunman's wife unaware that she was also involved and she shot him, police said today.
The police released fresh details today of the Las Vegas shooting carried out Sunday by the husband and wife team identified as Jerad Miller, 31 and Amanda Miller, 22. Both suspects were believed to have been wounded by police gunfire before Amanda Miller shot her husband several times and then killed herself in a suicide pact, police said.
Las Vegas police are also trying to verify statements made on the couple's Facebook page that they were involved in right wing anti-government movement and were at the cattle standoff at the ranch of Cliven Bundy earlier this year, an event that attracted anti-government militants.
The couple was "prepared for a lengthy gun battle," said Second Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill. He said they were armed with a shotgun and several handguns and backpacks stuffed with ammunition.
In recounting how the shooting spree occurred, McMahill said Jerad Miller entered CiCi's Pizza at 11:22 a.m. and noted Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, sitting in a booth on their lunch break. He left the restaurant and returned moments later with his wife, police said.
"Immediately on passing them, Jerad Miller pulled a gun out and shot Soldo in the back of his head," McMahill said.
As Beck began to react, Jerad Miller shot him in the throat and both Millers then opened fire on Beck, killing him. They pulled the officers from the booth, covered them with a "Don't Tread on Me" flag and a swastika, and pinned a note to Soldo "that basicly said this is the beginning of the revolution," McMahill said. The duo stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and headed for the Walmart.
Sheree Burns, who witnessed the shooting, says the officers didn't stand a chance.
"I didn't know what to think," she said. "I realized the gun going off, then I hit the floor."
The Millers headed to the nearby Walmart store where Jerad Miller fired one shot and ordered everybody out, telling them "this was the revolution," McMahill said. His wife trailed him, putting their backpacks into shopping carts.
Joseph Wilcox, 31, was in the store and was carrying a gun. "He told a friend he was going to confront them," the officer said. But he was unaware of Amanda Miller and walked right past her as he moved towards her husband. "She shot him in the ribs," McMahill said.
Two teams of cops entered the Walmart from different directions and one of the teams began a running gunbattle with the Millers as the couple retreated deeper into the store. McMahill said that at different times, one of the Millers assumed a tactical shooting position lying on the floor and Jerad Miller had set up a defensive perimeter using stuff from the store. He also used the shotgun to try to blow open doors in the rear of the store to make an escape, but police prevented them from leaving, the officer said.
McMahill said both Millers appear to have been wounded, but the gunfire ended when Amanda Miller shot her husband several times and then shot herself. She was still breathing when police reached her, but died while she was still in the Walmart store.
In the aftermath of the carnage, neighbor Krista Koch said the Millers were open about their intentions to kill cops.
"They always talked about murdering cops," Koch told ABC affiliate KTNV-TV. "They were going to kill as many officers as they can, and then they were going to do away with themselves."
The police officers who died were both married with children. Beck had been with the department since 2001 and leaves behind a wife and three children. Soldo had been with the force since 2006 and is survived by a wife and baby, police said.
Soldo was described as a good father and a "great guy" by his sister-in-law, Colleen Soldo of Beatrice, Nebraska. She said he attended high school in Lincoln, Neb., and previously worked as a corrections officer.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie called Wilcox's death "completely senseless."