I-Team: Questions surround shooters' online rants - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Questions surround shooters' online rants

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LAS VEGAS -- The accused shooters from Sunday’s rampage, Jerad and Amanda Miller, were very active with blogs and frequent posters to anti- government websites.

The posts have many people wondering if their rants were also warnings.

The I-Team looked at some possible indicators the Millers were about to go off the deep end.

Obscure in life, the Millers are well known in death by the many videos and postings left behind on the Internet.

However, tens of thousands of people visit anti-government websites daily and post their beliefs without killing anyone. The situation begs the question: is it possible to recognize signs of imbalance, before violence occurs, while ensuring free speech for those who simply want to take their government to task?

“I admit, a lot of gun deaths in this country. But not nearly the millions that have died because of government turning on its own people,” Jerad Miller said in an online post.

It might be easy after the fact to believe Jerad and Amanda Miller's Internet diatribes about tyranny and police oppression might have marked them for law enforcement scrutiny, but the fact is, an individual's social media use doesn't usually come to the attention of police until after a crime occurs.

“We're a free country. We can believe and say what we want. They have that right. But still, at the same time, you get to the point of talking about killing people, harming another person, going after a particular school or student to make a statement, that is a whole different problem. That is a whole different area that needs to be stopped,” retired FBI agent David Shepherd said.

Mental health counselor Ron Lawrence agrees with former agent Shepherd there comes a point when free speech crosses over into dangerousness.

“One of the things we don't want to do is create a police-state mentality where everybody is telling on everybody else, but there is a point where dangerousness is real as echoed through someone's intentions,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence says that is usually when people start talking about acting on their intentions. In Jerad Miller's case, Lawrence says he found two signs of dangerousness in Millers’ online chatter.

“He actually glorified suicide by cop in his message. And the other thing he said was that, you know, it's good to die for liberty,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence says mental health education is needed to help the public recognize the signs of dangerousness, as opposed to strong opinions about politics and government.

Both Lawrence and former special agent Shepherd urge people, whether they see it online or hear it in person, to report incidents where actual threats are made.

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