Nativist extremists and white supremacists wasted little time responding with half-cocked conspiracy theories to the news that J.T. Ready, a neo-Nazi border vigilante, had died in an apparent murder-suicide outside Phoenix. For some, the blame lay with Mexican drug cartels. For others, it was the Zionist Occupied Government, or ZOG, once again silencing a critic.
“Until the bullets are extracted and analyzed, the authorities will not know if one person or multiple persons shot the victims! But I know you La Raza Commie Weenies will spin it just as JT did it. I’ll be on this like white on rice. I will make sure the truth comes out,” Layne Lawless, a prominent Arizona nativist, wrote on Facebook.
Others on Stormfront, a largely anonymous white supremacist web forum, took the conspiracy a step further. “They took him out. It’s that simple,” someone named Valkator wrote. As of Thursday, the site had 15 pages of comments related to Ready’s death the night before. (Conspicuously absent from the forum were the posts Ready himself left in recent months. Those appear to have been scrubbed.)
A similar thread appeared on Vanguard News Network, a racist website run by neo-Nazi Alex Linder, with some worrying about Ready’s legacy as a “loose cannon [sic] in the anti-immigration movement.”
“We don’t need another black eye in White Nationalism after we have five convicted pipe bombers in Federal prison,” one post read.
In general, the reaction to Ready's death seemed to play on a few expected narratives: that Ready was killed by drug smugglers; that Jews running the federal government had come calling; even that Ready was acting in self-defense when he was killed. Whatever the flavor of conspiracy, it’s not surprising that Ready's death should garner such a response. He was a darling of the movement – a well-spoken and husky presence on the border, almost always armed as if he were going to war.
In 2010, Ready was active patrolling the border with Harry Hughes, a fellow neo-Nazi who took up the Minuteman cause and began patrolling Arizona's Vekol Valley for migrants. Hughes, who serves as a media spokesman for the new-Nazi National Socialist Movement in Arizona, wrote on his personal blog that Ready was "a most misunderstood American Patriot" who he feared was "forever going to be unfairly branded as a hate monger, as a white supremacist" due to the nature of his death.
A member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, former member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and founder of the Arizona-based nativist extremist organization Americans First, Ready advocated deadly force to stop Mexicans from crossing the U.S. border illegally. "I firmly believe in having a minefield across the border," he said in a widely distributed video. "This is 100% effective."
More recently, he founded the U.S. Border Guard, a nativist group operating with armed patrols on the Arizona border. On Thursday, the group posted a message to its website. “The US Border Guard is extremely saddened by the untimely loss of our founder, J.T. Ready, and the other souls lost in such a senseless act of violence. Our sympathies go out to all of his family and friends during this time of unbelievable grief and pain.”
The motive for the quintuple killings seems to be a tragic story of domestic violence turned fatal, police said on Thursday. Sgt. Bill Balafas, a police spokesman in Gilbert, Ariz., the suburb of Phoenix where Ready lived, told The Arizona Republic that a witness had heard arguing and gunshots. “Our investigation is directing us to a murder-suicide. ... There is no indication of outside players at all,” Balafas said.
Given that reality, others in the movement have taken a far more sober approach in their reaction, calling for patience while the investigation unfolds –– and caution given the horrible light many fear now shines on the anti-immigration movement.
“The whole story may not yet be revealed, but we suffered a blow today,” someone using the name david7700 posted on Stormfront. “The fight against 1 million + illegal immigrants per year may have taken a toll on [Ready], but I'd say he went in the worst possible way for anti-immigration's image.”