Investigators examining the bloody scene near Phoenix where an anti-immigrant neo-Nazi murdered four people, including a 15-month-old baby girl, turned up “chemicals and military grade munitions,” authorities just announced.
J.T. Ready, a 39-year-old former National Socialist Movement leader who formed the nativist, militia-like U.S. Border Guard, was the apparent shooter before taking his own life in the murder-suicide, Gilbert Police Sgt. Bill Balafas said in a statement released today.
“The evidence to this point, which will still be verified, is leading us to believe Jason Ready is responsible for killing the other four and subsequently taking his own life,” the police statement said.
Beside Ready, the dead were identified as his girlfriend, Lisa Lynn Mederos, 47; her daughter, Amber Nieve Mederos, 23; the daughter’s boyfriend, Jim Franklin Hiott, and Amber’s 15-month-old baby girl, Lilly Lynn Mederos.
“This horrific event began [Wednesday] at around 1 p.m. [MDT] when officers responded to a domestic fight call in the 500 block of west Tumbleweed in Gilbert,” the statement said.
“Upon arrival, officer located four deceased adults and one severely injured child,” it continued. “The child was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased.”
“Investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence and located hazardous chemicals and military-style ammunitions,” the statement said without offering specifics.
Media accounts from the scene on Wednesday indicated authorities had located at least two 55-gallon drums thought to contain hazardous material in the backyard of the residence, located in a cul-de-sac in a middle-class neighborhood composed of homes that are about 15 years old.
Police didn’t immediately release a detailed list of firearms and ammunition found at the residence after initially saying they found a handgun and a shotgun.
Ready, an ex-Marine court-martialed twice for bad conduct, was a current candidate for Pinal County Sheriff, claiming he was the “common sense” choice to combat the “horrific reality of terrible violence associated with illegal immigration.”
He previously talked about placing landmines on the U.S.-Mexican border where he and other armed vigilantes – he called them “Minutemen on steroids” – conducted patrols to attempt to apprehend undocumented immigrants.
Before leaving the NSM and starting his vigilante border group, Ready marched in a parade with neo-Nazi flags and held a picture of Adolf Hitler, whom he called “a great white civil rights leader.” He called Jews “parasites.”
Ready also had been a long-time close associate of former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, a now-recalled Republican politician. Pearce helped Ready join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and reportedly groomed him for a bid for political office.
Pearce angrily blasted the media Thursday when he was sought for comment on the murder-suicide involving his former protégé, then released a statement.
“Regarding whether I knew JT Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in Mesa politics for a long time,” Pearce wrote.
“When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person. He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members, and his attitudes and spoken opinions were good and decent,” Pearce said in his statement.
“At some point in time, darkness took his life over, his heart changed, and he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society. They were intolerant and hateful and like so many who knew him from before, I was upset and disappointed at the choices he was making.”
Pearce claimed he worked to have Ready removed from the Republican Party “because there has never been and will never be any room in our party or our lives for those preaching hatred.”
Ready “was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with JT,” Pearce said in his statement.
Recently, Ready had worked at an auto shop, but friends and associates say he still harbored racist views.
Heather Morton, who knew Ready, told the Arizona Republic he met Amber Mederos while dining at a Wendy’s restaurant where she worked and later became involved with her mother.
Morton told the newspaper that Ready moved into the family residence but was so “cruel and controlling” that Amber Mederos moved out a few months ago with her daughter and fiancé. Morton said Ready criticized Amber’s baby for being half Hispanic. “He said, ‘She’s 50 percent ugly,’ that’s how he described her,” she added.