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A man and a woman who shot two police officers and then a civilian in Las Vegas on Sunday may have been white supremacists, according to Las Vegas newspapers.
The Las Vegas Sun quoted neighbors at the couple’s apartment complex saying that the two “had a reputation for spouting racist, anti-government views, bragging about their gun collection and boasting that they’d spent time at Cliven Bundy’s ranch during a recent standoff there between armed militia members and federal government agents.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that police found Swastika symbols in the apartment.
If the two are involved with neo-Nazi or white supremacists groups, the Vegas slayings would be one of several linked to hate movements.
Among recent killings: A former Ku Klux Klan “grand dragon” killed three at two Jewish facilities in a Kansas City suburb in April; a man killed six before killing himself at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012; and a man killed three officers in Pittsburgh in 2009.
The tragedy in Las Vegas unfolded Sunday afternoon as two police officers ate lunch at CiCi’s Pizza — a world away from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip.
Without warning, they were fatally shot at point-blank range by a man and a woman who then swiped the officers’ weapons, ammunition and badges, according to the Review-Journal. “This is a revolution,” one of the suspects shouted, according to witnesses.
The couple then reportedly covered the officers’ bodies with a cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag.
The newspaper reported it was the Gadsden flag, a yellow background with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on me.” Named for Christopher Gadsden, the Revolutionary War general who designed it, the flag has been more recently associated with the American Tea Party movement and, by some, with the Confederacy.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie identified the slain officers as Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31.
“They were ambushed,” Gillespie said, but he did not provide information about the shooters’ motive. “My officers were simply having lunch when the shooting started.”
The shooters, who have not been named, then fled to a Wal-Mart where they killed a third person. Police responded, exchanging fire with the shooters. During the shootout, the female suspect killed the male suspect and then turned her gun on herself.
The Wal-Mart patron who was killed has not yet been publicly identified.
Although still sketchy, details have emerged about the shooters.
On Sunday night, investigators searched the married couple’s apartment, just four miles from the scene of the shooting. Police allegedly found swastika symbols and are looking into their links to the white supremacy movement, the Review-Journal reported:
Neighbor Krista Koch described them as ‘militant.’ They talked about planning to kill police officers, ‘going underground’ and not coming out until the time was right to kill.
Brandon Monroe, 22, has lived in the complex for about two weeks. He said the man who lived in the apartment that was being searched often rambled about conspiracy theories. He often wore camouflage or dressed as Peter Pan as a … street performer. A woman lived with him, Monroe said, but he didn’t see her as often.
They were weird people, Monroe said, adding that he thought the couple used methamphetamines.
Neighbors did not know the couple’s names.
The killings come less than a year after the Las Vegas Police Department’s most recent death. Officer David VanBuskirk died in 2013 while rescuing a hiker by helicopter.
Also last year, 115 people were killed in Vegas, but the AP reported that an officer has not been shot on duty since 2006.
In 1999, a man opened fire in an Las Vegas Albertsons and killed four people. A 2013 FBI report ranked Nevada second in the nation for violent crime — but the state’s large number of tourists may skew the data.