Police ID victims, believe J.T. Ready to be shooter in Gilbert incident - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Police ID victims, believe J.T. Ready to be shooter in Gilbert incident

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Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 2:53 pm | Updated: 6:32 am, Fri May 4, 2012.

Prominent East Valley political figure J.T. Ready is the man police believe shot and killed four people Wednesday in a Gilbert home before taking his own life.

Gilbert police believe Jason Todd Ready, 39, was the gunman in the incident that occurred shortly after 1 p.m. at a home at 530 W. Tumbleweed, near the intersection of Warner and Cooper Roads.

Ready is a former Marine known for his neo-Nazi ties, as well as for his efforts in organizing desert militia groups to find illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. He most recently had announced intentions to run for the office of Pinal County Sheriff, and previously had run for a Mesa City Council seat in 2006

In addition to Ready, Gilbert police have also confirmed that Lisa Lynn Mederos, 46, her daughter, Amber Nieve Mederos, 23, and her granddaughter, 15-month-old Lily Lynn Mederos were among those killed in the shooting. Also killed was Jim Franklin Hiott, 24, Amber Mederos' fiance.

Police, who arrived in the neighborhood to see Ready’s black Chevy Impala parked with its nose pointed at the front of the house, still are putting together the pieces of how the day unraveled that shocked what residents described as a “tranquil” neighborhood, made national news and stirred a range of emotions from Ready’s friends, adversaries and neighbors.

Balafas has said that the evidence points to the shooting being related to domestic violence. Officers have recovered two handguns and a shotgun.

Sandi Wilder, a neighbor of the home where the shooting occurred at 530 W. Tumbleweed, said a woman who lived at that residence was the girlfriend of J.T. Ready.

Wilder's husband, Chip, president of the Lago Estancia HOA, told the Tribune that over the past few years, he had often seen Ready and a few other men dressed in full camouflage gear come to the home. He said they always looked as if they had been in the desert or were part of a survivalist group.

"I'm a little shaken up with what's happened in our neighborhood," Chip Wilder said Wednesday afternoon. "It's just a terrible tragedy."

"On arrival, officers found several victims within the household," said Balafas.

Balafas said police believed only one suspect was involved in the shooting, and was one of the five dead.

"We do not believe there are any suspects at large," he said.

Police were also interviewing someone Wednesday believed to be a witness, Balafas added.

Lily Mederos was transported to the hospital shortly after police responded to the home, but was pronounced dead en route. The bodies of the four adults involved in the incident remained in the home into Wednesday evening as police waited for the go-ahead to continue investigating.

Assisted by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Mesa Police Department’s bomb squad and the Department of Defense, police discovered two handguns and a shotgun inside the residence and two 55-gallon drums containing an unknown liquid in the backyard that delayed investigators of going into the home until it was examined as a precautionary measure.

The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force were at the scene because of the amount of military-grade munitions found in the house, and chemicals found in 55-gallon drums in the backyard of the home, Balafas said.

On Thursday, the FBI was continuing to assist Gilbert police in the investigation.

Authorities close to the case said that Ready’s activities had caused him to be a “person of interest” and on their radar for quite some time and by closely watching him, they said it wasn’t known at this time where it could lead in the way of his possible involvement with other domestic terrorism groups.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence and located hazardous chemicals and military grade munitions. The Gilbert Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team and the Department of Defense assisted in removing the items.

Police had cordoned off a large area of the neighborhood surrounding the home in northwest Gilbert.

Two Gilbert schools were locked down Wednesday, according to a message on the Gilbert Unified School District website.

At the request of the police department, Gilbert Elementary School, 175 W. Elliot Road, and Mesquite Junior High School, 130 W. Mesquite, were placed in a modified lockdown and classes continued inside the schools. People were unable to enter or leave the building during the lockdown.

Shortly before 2 p.m., Gilbert Police recommended the schools resume regular activities, an update on the website said. Students at both schools were never in any immediate danger.

A representative from the district was unavailable for comment.

In a statement issued by Gilbert Mayor John Lewis said, “Our community is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life that came as a result of yesterday’s events here in Gilbert. I have the utmost confidence in our police department’s capabilities to handle this ongoing investigation. I have been so pleased with the cooperation from all local and federal agencies involved with this matter. We send our heartfelt condolences and support to the family and friends of those involved and I urge you all to join together to support our Town during this difficult time.”

Tim Hacker, Stacie Spring, Mike Sakal and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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