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JT Ready, Arizona Border Vigilante Blamed for Mass Murder, Had State Republican Party Ties

Posted: 05/ 3/2012 6:34 pm

Jt Ready

A border vigilante and avowed white supremacist who police believe killed four people and himself in a suburban Phoenix home on Wednesday was once allied with the Republican Senate majority leader who pushed through Arizona's harsh anti-illegal immigration bill in 2010.

Police in Gilbert, Ariz. said evidence at the scene indicated that Jason Todd Ready, 39, shot and killed his girlfriend, the woman's daughter and her boyfriend, and her 15-month-old granddaughter before turning the gun on himself. Hazardous chemicals and "military grade munitions" were found at the home, police said.

Ready, a former Marine known as "J.T.," founded and led the U.S Border Guard, a vigilante group that conducted heavily armed patrols of the Arizona-Mexico border with the aim of disrupting the flow of illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

Ready served for several years as a Republican precinct committeeman in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, and Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican and former Arizona Senate majority leader, endorsed Ready's run for Mesa City Council in 2006, which he lost. The two were linked over their shared opposition to illegal immigration.

"One of the things that I appreciate about J.T. is the fact that I think he's committed, as a true patriot, to the real purpose and the limited purpose of government, kind of like the Republican platform that we have," Pearce said in an interview in 2006.

Pearce then appeared with Ready at an anti-illegal immigration rally in Phoenix in 2007. But he disavowed the relationship in 2008 after his political opponents exposed Ready's extremist views, and he worked to have Ready removed from his position as Republican committeeman.

On Thursday, Pearce issued a lengthy statement denouncing the killings and distancing himself from Ready.

"Regarding whether I knew J.T. Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in Mesa politics for a long time," Pearce said. "When we first met J.T. he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person."

"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."

A posting on the Facebook page for Ready's border vigilante group speculated that their leader might have been the victim of a "hit" by Mexican drug cartels.

"Reports are unconfirmed that a cartel assassination squad murdered J.T. Ready and several of his friends and family this afternoon in Gilbert, Arizona," said the post, written by the page's administrator.

But police said that that all of the evidence indicated that Ready killed his girlfriend and the other victims.

"Everything is looking to be domestic-violence related," said Sgt. Bill Balafas, a spokesman for the Gilbert Police Department.

Balafas said police received a 911 call "about Mr. Ready going crazy inside the house," then a report about gunshots. By the time police arrived, Ready and three of the victims were dead. The 15-month-old girl was found severely wounded and died shortly afterward at the hospital.

Police had been called to the house after previous domestic disturbances, Balafas said, but specific details about those incidents were not yet available.

Harry L. Hughes III, the leader of a Phoenix white supremacist group, called Ready a "patriotic American," in a Facebook posting about the killings.

"J.T. Ready was my friend. He was a patriotic American, despite any negative views other people may have," he said. "Mr. Ready risked his life to protect this country from drugs and worked hard to help other people."

Elise Foley contributed reporting.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Authorities believe that J.T. Ready (pictured) fatally shot four people before taking his own life during a rampage Wednesday afternoon in Gilbert. Arizona.

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Authorities believe that J.T. Ready (pictured) fatally shot four people before taking his own life during a rampage Wednesday afternoon in Gilbert. Arizona.

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Authorities believe that J.T. Ready (pictured) fatally shot four people before taking his own life during a rampage Wednesday afternoon in Gilbert. Arizona.

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    A Gilbert police officer blocks the street outside a shooting crime scene Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said Thursday that police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, a former Marine with ties to neo-Nazi and Minutemen groups, shot four people Wednesday and then took his own life in a suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Gilbert police officer Sgt. Bill Balafas speaks to the media Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. regarding the shooting in Gilbert that left five people dead. Police have identified one of the five people killed in a shooting in a Phoenix suburb as a former Marine with ties to new-Nazi and Minutemen groups. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Gilbert police officers blocks the street outside a shooting crime scene Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said Thursday that police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, a former Marine with ties to neo-Nazi and Minutemen groups, shot four people Wednesday and then took his own life in a suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Arizona Shooting

    Gilbert police officers load a dog into a truck after it was removed from the crime scene Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Authorities in Gilbert say there has been a multi person shooting in the 500 block of West Tumbleweed Rd. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Gilbert police officers walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Authorities in Gilbert say there has been a multi person shooting in the 500 block of West Tumbleweed Rd. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    A Gilbert police officer stands outside the police tape outside a crime scene Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Police in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert say a man shot and killed four people, including a toddler, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Gilbert police officers walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Police in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert say a man shot and killed four people, including a toddler, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Police officers and FBI agents walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said Thursday that police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, a former Marine with ties to neo-Nazi and Minutemen groups, shot four people Wednesday and then took his own life in a suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Police officers and FBI agents walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said Thursday that police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, a former Marine with ties to neo-Nazi and Minutemen groups, shot four people Wednesday and then took his own life in a suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Phoenix Suburb Shooting

    Police officers and FBI agents walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Thursday, May 3, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas said Thursday that police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, a former Marine with ties to neo-Nazi and Minutemen groups, shot four people Wednesday and then took his own life in a suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Arizona Shooting

    A man tells a Gilbert police officer he had a child inside of the home where five people were shot Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Arizona Shooting

    Gilbert police officers walk inside the police tape outside a crime scene Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. A man fatally shot four people, including a toddler, at a home in a Phoenix suburb before killing himself Wednesday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Arizona Shooting

    A man who said he had a child inside of the home where five people were shot Wednesday, May 2, 2012 in Gilbert, Ariz. cries after talking with police as he walks inside the crime scene tape. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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