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Arizona Shooting: Police Believe Neo-Nazi Jason Todd Ready Killed 4, Himself In Gilbert Attack

By AMANDA LEE MYERS 05/04/12 07:29 PM ET AP

Ready
Police believe that Jason Todd Ready killed four people before taking his own life.

PHOENIX — The U.S. Border Guard was among the last known groups of armed civilians actively patrolling the Arizona desert on the lookout for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

Now that its leader, former neo-Nazi Jason Todd "JT" Ready, is dead in what police believe is a murder-suicide involving his girlfriend in a quiet Phoenix suburb, the future of his group has suddenly come into question.

His friends vowed Friday that the patrols will continue in some form.

Sean Rose, a 35-year-old Tucson man who said Ready was like a brother to him, said he would quit his job to keep the group going.

"He did a lot for this country as far as protecting the border, something the government doesn't do," Rose said. "I think it's good to have civilians stopping the drug market."

Groups that monitor the activities of organizations like the U.S. Border Guard expressed doubts that it will be able to maintain its operations. Without Ready's leadership, they say, the Border Guard will likely disappear.

"The U.S. Border Guard is probably finished," said Mark Potok of the anti-hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center. "It really did revolve around JT Ready."

An SPLC recent report said that "nativist extremist" groups like Ready's decreased by almost half in 2011 to 184 groups, down from a high of 319 such groups in 2010.

The Minuteman Project and other similar groups have been plagued by infighting and financial difficulties, largely splintering or disintegrating altogether.

The movement's decline comes as states like Arizona passed harsh immigration laws that included provisions allowing local police to question a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws, Potok said.

Those laws created an impression among some civilian border militia members that state governments were doing more about illegal immigration, and that they no longer had to, he said.

Jennifer Allen, interim director the Arizona chapter of the immigrant advocacy group, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, said that organizations like Ready's thrive on a charismatic leader, and tend to implode once that leader is gone.

"What brings hate groups together is anger and fear. So it makes sense that they would start to direct that toward one another," she said. "They also attract a lot of people that want to be mega personalities.

"And it ends up being their own worst enemy – fighting over the limelight," she said.

The SPLC also cites the case of Shawna Forde, a former member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. She was convicted in a May 2009 home invasion that left a 9-year-old girl and her father dead.

Prosecutors said the invasion was an attempt to steal drug money to fund her group's border operations.

Forde was expelled from the Minuteman group in 2007 amid allegations of lying and pretending to be a senior leader. At the time of the killings, she was the head of her own group called the Minutemen American Defense.

The SPLC's report said the killings cast a pall over the entire civilian border militia movement.

But Ready began patrolling the desert with his group after the killings, dressing up in head-to-toe camouflage gear, helmets and boots, and carrying high-powered guns as they traveled out into the desert to look for illegal immigrants or smugglers.

Rose said that he never joined the group on patrols, but that he and Ready would go out with a handful of others about a dozen times a year on similar outings.

Rose and other friends of Ready's said they are reluctant to believe that he killed four people and himself, and say they feel drug cartels are more likely to blame even though police have discounted that possibility.

Police say all the evidence points to a domestic-violence situation.

Those killed in the rampage in Gilbert on Wednesday were Ready's girlfriend, her daughter; her 16-month-old granddaughter; and her daughter's boyfriend.

Harry Hughes, another close friend of Ready's and a regional director with the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement, said he plans to continue his own one-to-two man desert patrols.

Members of the National Socialist Movement promote white separatism, dress like Nazis and display swastikas. They believe only non-Jewish, white heterosexuals should be citizens and that anyone who isn't white should leave "peacefully or by force."

Ready was a former member of the group who said he quit to focus on his desert patrols.

"Just because Mr. Ready is no longer with us doesn't mean we're going to stop," Hughes said. "After we pay our last respects and get our ducks back in a row, I'm pretty sure business will continue."

He added, "I don't think JT would have wanted us to stop."

___

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/AmandaLeeAP

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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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