- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday’s slaying of two Las Vegas policemen raises to 23 the number of law enforcement officers killed by gunfire this year, a 53 percent increase over the tally at this time last year, which is spurring concern about the influence of radical groups.

After shooting the policemen at point-blank range, the husband and wife killers took the officers’ weapons and reportedly covered them with a Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag, which depicts a coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The officers’ killers — Jerad Miller and his wife, Amanda — had been at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during his standoff with federal officials in April, though the rancher’s family said Monday the two had been chased away.

The Millers had an ideology that was along the lines of “militia and white supremacists” and that law enforcement was the “oppressor,” said Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill.

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The slayings of officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who were gunned down while having lunch at a pizza buffet, add to a trend that has law enforcers worried that they are becoming the targets of crime.

“We are seeing more direct violence as a result of radical groups, and that does concern us,” said Rich Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations. “There seems to be more people out there who are blatantly anti-cop, and heavy exposure through the Internet and other propaganda seems to make people with these violent views feed off each other.”

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Laura Meltzer hangs up pictures of suspects Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller before a news conference Monday, June 9, 2014 in Las Vegas. Two police officers were having lunch at a strip mall pizza buffet when the Millers fatally shot them in a point-blank ambush, then fled to a nearby Wal-Mart where they killed a third person and then themselves in an apparent suicide pact, authorities said. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Laura Meltzer hangs up pictures of ... more >

This year is on track to be one of the most deadly for police officers since 2001, when terrorists hit the World Trade Center, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks crimes against law enforcers nationally. There have been 23 law enforcement shooting deaths so far this year, compared with 15 shooting deaths at this time last year.

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Overall, 62 police officers have been killed this year, compared with 45 this time last year. Those figures include traffic-related incidents.

Law enforcement groups such as the International Union of Police Associations and National Sheriffs’ Association say they have seen increased activity by members of the sovereign citizen movement — an anti-government, white supremacist organization — and the anti-government Patriot and militia movements that have targeted officers.

“All law enforcement is wary of the sovereign citizen movement. It has a lot of folks concerned,” said Fred Wilson, a spokesman for the National Sheriffs’ Association. “They are really well armed and have some pretty bad weapons. Right now they’ve mostly been trying to use the civil process to thwart things — through trivial lawsuits and liens and the likes. We haven’t seen anything exponential yet, but again, one incident is too many.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), membership in the militia arm of the Patriot movement has more than quintupled over the past five years, and those participating in the sovereign citizen movement have increased their numbers over the same period.

“We are five years into the largest resurgence in right-wing anti-government groups since … the Oklahoma City bombing,” said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at ADL.

He said that six years ago, ADL’s briefings for police officers were evenly split between providing information on white supremacist organizations and anti-government groups.

“Today it’s more like a 90/10 split in favor of anti-government groups,” Mr. Pitcavage said. “This is absolutely a legitimate concern.”

Jerad and Amanda Miller, who ambushed the Las Vegas police officers, had all the trappings of the Patriot movement’s militia wing, Mr. Pitcavage said. Mr. Miller’s Facebook postings and manifesto spoke of a tyrannical government needing to be overcome through citizen rebellion. In this line of thinking, law enforcement officers are either knowing participants in the conspiracy or are doing its bidding, making them natural enemies, the ADL official said.

Las Vegas police said Monday that they are still trying to determine a motive for the fatal shootings. The couple also killed Joseph Wilcox, 31, of Las Vegas at a nearby Wal-Mart.

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