Wed June 11, 2014
Las Vegas Shooting Returns Police Attention To Bundy's Ranch
Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 6:24 pm
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. We're learning more about the investigation into Sunday shooting spree in Las Vegas that killed two police officers and a civilian. Police say the husband and wife behind the attack, who also died, had antigovernment and anti-law enforcement views. Investigators are still focused on those views as well as the couple's time on the encampment on Cliven Bundy's ranch. He's the cattle rancher who has been fighting the federal government over grazing fees. And he's trying to distance himself from the shooting as NPR's Kirk Siegler found out.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Prior to the shooting, Nevada law enforcement came in contact with Jerad and Amanda Miller three times. The one that stands out, in hindsight, was in February shortly after the couple moved to Las Vegas from Indiana. Police were investigating a tip from the Indiana DMV that Jerad Miller had threatened to shoot anyone who showed up to arrest him for a suspended license. But Clark County Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill says when officers here look to interview him Miller denied saying that.
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KEVIN MCMAHILL: The interaction with our detectives, at that point, was described as normal. There was no antigovernment or anti-police descriptions described to those officers at that point. And they did not feel through their interview that the suspects were an ongoing or potential threat.
SIEGLER: Part of the investigation continues to focus on the time the Miller's spent at the recent armed standoff, between militia and federal officials, at Cliven Buddy's Ranch.
MCMAHILL: There were a lot of people that were self-described militia, white supremacist and sovereign citizens. But, as you well know, in the hundreds of people who were at the Bundy ranch these were the only two that were from ideology to action.
SIEGLER: About 80 miles east of Las Vegas just off interstate 15 on a harsh and hot patch of Nevada desert, there are still a handful of militia and Minutemen protesters camped outside the Bundy ranch. A couple of miles past them, on a dusty dirt road, you'll find Cliven Bundy's house in a thick grove of trees.
CLIVEN BUNDY: Yeah, it is - it's along this Virgin River, it’s a green area and of course...
SIEGLER: After showing the inside, Bundy takes a seat on a wooden rocking chair and swats some flies from his face. He's quick to distance his supporters, and himself, from Jerad and Amanda's shooting spree.
BUNDY: We don't take any responsibility and we know we didn't have anything - there was no way we can correct anything or make anything different. This was just a man and a woman that showed up and they showed up to support us and we did reject them.
SIEGLER: But he says his militia supporters even offered Miller's cash to leave the April protest.
BUNDY: When he left, I know that he left in a sorrowful way thinking that he had been rejected. And, of course, this was something I was concerned about when I hear this action I thought well, okay was our rejection of this man have anything to do with his actions?
SIEGLER: Police say they're not sure a link like that could ever be found. But plenty of people think Cliven Bundy and his protesters are at least indirectly responsible for inciting antigovernment violence including the Miller shooting spree.
BILL YOUNG: To see some of the absolute criminals and thugs that I saw walking with Cliven Bundy that he had beside him made me sick to my stomach.
SIEGLER: Former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young told member station KNPR that Bundy and the armed standoff is, without question, a magnet for people for the Miller's.
YOUNG: He created a monster out there that's drawn attention to our state that, as a fourth generation native Nevadan, I'm embarrassed about.
SIEGLER: Current law enforcement officials here haven't been as harsh publicly saying only that the Miller's connection to the Bundy's ranch is just part of their investigation. Meanwhile, the FBI is reportedly looking to other antigovernment activists who took part in April standoff. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.