Five recent killings of police officers in the United States and Canada “highlight a trend of growing violence by far-right extremists that is likely to continue in the near term,” a New York state counterterrorism bulletin warns.
The bulletin, now declassified and publicly accessible, cites the June 4 fatal shooting of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. It also lists the wounding of a sheriff’s deputy June 6 at the Forsyth County, Ga., courthouse and the June 8 fatal shootings of two police officers in Las Vegas.
“Based upon reporting it appears all the suspects in these incidents were motivated by elements of a far right anti-government ideology with a particular fixation on law enforcement,” New York State Counter Terrorism Bulletin 14-07 says.
“While it is unknown whether this spike is indicative of a long term increasing trend,” the bulletin says, “it is significant from a near term perspective due to the short time frame and purposeful targeting of law enforcement.”
“The recent attacks serve to highlight a trend of growing violence by far right extremists that is likely to continue in the near term,” it continues.
“While attacks by lone offenders or small groups, common amongst far right extremists, are often difficult to detect and can occur with little or no warning, law enforcement should remain vigilant to any indicators or suspicious activity related to the persistent far right extremist threat,” the bulletin concludes.
All three fatal police shootings cited occurred less than a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was re-establishing the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to address the “continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”
The New York bulletin doesn’t mention the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice, but does suggest the suspects in the fatal police shootings shared an antigovernment, anti-police philosophy.
Justin Bourque, the 24-year-old suspect captured after a manhunt in Moncton, New Brunswick, was armed with two rifles and wearing military-style camouflage when the three officers were fatally shot, the bulletin says.
“While Bourque’s motive for the attack remains unknown, it appears he held extremist antigovernment beliefs – particularly against law enforcement,” the New York state document says.
It adds: “According to friends, Bourque underwent a transformation in the last year from a laid-back to an angry person. After moving out of his parents’ house last year he struggled to hold a job, turned to drugs, and became increasingly obsessed with guns (particularly the ongoing U.S. gun debate which has spilled over to a lesser degree to Canada) and abuses by police. This appears to be corroborated by his Facebook account which revealed many posts with pro-gun photos and a few anti-police memes.”
The bulletin says the suspect in the Georgina courthouse shooting, 48-year-old Dennis Marx, was “armed with an assault rifle, an assortment of grenades, body armor, and a gas mask” when he was “intercepted by law enforcement.” Marx also “possessed a large quantity of ammunition, food, water, and flexible handcuffs implying he likely intended to seize hostages and engage in an extended standoff with law enforcement,” it adds.
Marx was scheduled to appear before a judge at the Forsyth courthouse that day on 11 felony drug and weapons charges.
“Marx shot and wounded a sheriff’s deputy who is credited with preventing Marx from entering the building. Law enforcement officers from the surrounding area and inside the courthouse then engaged Marx in a three minute shootout resulting in his death,” the bulletin says.
Marx “had long running issues with law enforcement and was a self-identified sovereign citizen,” the bulletin says. In 2011, the FBI issued a report saying sovereign citizens comprise the greatest domestic terrorism threat in the United States.
Law enforcement initially identified Marx as a sovereign citizen, but Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper told WSB-TV in Atlanta four days after the shooting that “He was not a part of the sovereign citizens as far as we can find.” There was no “indication he was part of any group or planned this with anybody else,” Piper said.
Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, told Hatewatch today that ADL research – including an examination of a pro se lawsuit Marx filed – revealed no evidence Marx was a sovereign citizen or had any extremism connection, but rather was acting upon a violent personal agenda.
“There is an increasing general awareness of sovereign citizens, so when law enforcement or others come across people who don’t like police or government, they assume they’re sovereign citizens,” Pitcavage said.
To meet that strict definition, Pitcavage said, “There must be some evidence the acts were done for a particular political, social or religious purpose. Otherwise, as in the case of Marx, it was done for purely personal reasons.”
In the Las Vegas shootings, a civilian who was legally carrying a concealed weapon was fatally shot by Amanda Miller as he attempted to intervene as she and her husband, Jerad Miller, 31, fled to a Wal-Mart after gunning down two police officers at point-blank range.
During a shootout with Las Vegas police, both suspects were hit by police gunfire. “Despite initial reports that Amanda Miller shot her husband as police closed in, it appears Jerad Miller was killed by police and Amanda Miller committed suicide,” the bulletin says.
The couple appeared committed to their anti-police philosophy, carrying bags “containing a shotgun, the [slain] officers’ handguns, two other handguns, 200 rounds of ammunition, knives, first aid supplies, camouflage clothing and MRE-style food into Wal-Mart,” the bulletin says.
“This appears to indicate, like the Marx case, the Millers were preparing for a long standoff with police,” the bulletin concludes.
Evidence revealed the Millers “embraced a far-right militia ideology. At the scene, the Millers draped a Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread on Me”) over one dead officer, left a swastika on the other, and a note that said, ‘This is the start of the revolution,’’’ the bulletin says.
“While initial reporting of the swastika was interpreted as relating to white supremacist ideology, it appears it was meant to imply the police are Nazis, and the Millers do not appear to have subscribed to a white supremacist ideology,” the bulletin says.
It further notes that the Millers, as they entered Wal-Mart, shouted their actions were “the beginning of a revolution.”
“Both suspects reportedly often spoke about their anti-government ideas and desire to kill law enforcement,” the bulletin says. “The Millers’ social media centered on Second Amendment gun laws, government spying and drug laws as well as contained numerous references to the impending need to use violence to support those causes.”
Jerad Miller had over a decade long criminal history in multiple states, including misdemeanor battery and drug trafficking.
The New York bulletin says the Millers earlier had traveled to the Cliven Bundy standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Nevada, along with a New York state militia group called The New York Mutual Assistance Group (NYMAG).
The bulletin concludes by pointing to a recent study which shoed 37 people have been killed “in far-right attacks” in the United States since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, compared to 21 people killed by Islamic jihadists.