J.T. Ready, Neo-Nazi and One-Time Pal of Russell Pearce's, is Shooter in Gilbert Massacre (w/Update)
Indeed, in 2007, I watched Pearce and Ready work an anti-immigrant crowd together at the state Capitol, during a nativist rally, later posting photos of them side-by-side and smiling.
Ready had been outed as a white supremacist by the ADL in a hearing held at the state Legislature earlier that same year.
The fast-talking fascist was fond of media stunts to garner attention for himself or his movement. The latest was his announcement that he was running for Pinal County Sheriff as a Democrat. His campaign photos included some of himself with an African-American woman.
There was another of him giving the black-power salute in front of a "Malcolm X Street" sign in Pinal County. One of his campaign promises was that, if elected, he would name a street after the late American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell.
He could play the clown, but always menacingly. As I reported on him many times, he would send me odd text messages, sometimes with racist epithets, other times with photos of women he said he had bedded, including more than one African-American.
The last text I received from him read, "You smoke? 420," which he sent on April 20, a date when marijuana enthusiasts are known to light up.
As Ready was a creative, inveterate liar, it was difficult to tear fantasy from reality when speaking with him. He once told me, on background, that he was half-Jewish on his mother's side. With a straight face, I might add. Needless to say, he could be very convincing.
He always prided himself on once being a Marine, though in reality he had been drummed out of the service after getting court-martialed twice. He was intelligent and wily, and I was always on my guard around him.
I'm not entirely surprised that his life ended this way, considering his love of firearms and his twisted political ideology. Many have wondered if he was involved in the recent shootings of two illegal immigrants in Eloy. But that, of course, is highly speculative.
My sympathies to the families of the victims. I'll update this post as I get more.
UPDATE 7:04 p.m.: Just got this info from my colleague Eric Tsetsi, who has been on the scene and heard the latest briefing from the Gilbert cops.
Of the five dead, four of the bodies are still in the Gilbert home where the murders apparently took place. A toddler was removed and transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police say they are not moving the four remaining bodies because there is an unknown substance in containers outside the home that they are investigating.
Police also say that the shooter was one of the four in the home. They have not confirmed that Ready was the shooter, although other media outlets also are reporting that he was, and my sources say this as well.