Shooting rampage sheds light on sovereign citizen extremists - 8 News NOW

Shooting rampage sheds light on sovereign citizen extremists

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LAS VEGAS -- The shooting rampage at an eastside CiCi's Pizza and Walmart last week is shedding light on people who hate the government and are willing to kill because of it.

The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are 300,000 so-called sovereign citizens in the U.S. and that number may be growing in Nevada.

Sovereign citizens believe federal, state, and local governments are operating illegally, but when does free speech cross the line?

The killers in last week's shooting spree had three contacts with Metro Police since they moved here in January. However, seasoned detectives found Jerad and Amanda Miller did not set off any alarms.

The Millers were not alone in their hatred of the government and police, and authorities have to determine when to prosecute. The shooters expressed anti-government, anti-law enforcement views to just about anyone who would listen.

"Hindsight is 20/20. Who would have known that those two persons that had contact with the police, and the police actually checked them out, would have committed the horrific acts that they did. Who would have known that?" Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.

Wolfson said when a law enforcement agency refers cases to his office; the decision to prosecute is based on evidence. It is no different with people who don't recognize or hate the government.

"We're concerned because I think everybody recognizes this is a fairly new movement," Wolfson said.

The FBI says sovereign-citizen extremists are part of a domestic terrorist movement. In August, Metro arrested David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman for plotting to kill local police officers. Wolfson says they crossed the line from free speech into something more sinister.

"They were acting on their intentions. There was an undercover investigation, where they over a month's period of time, made statements like they wanted to kill and execute police officers,” Wolfson said.

In the end, Brutsche pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to kidnap police officers and was sentenced to probation. He actually apologized to the judge during his sentencing and renounced the sovereign citizen philosophy.

As for Newman, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, which is a gross misdemeanor. She was also placed on probation. She says she was never part of the movement.

"Giving somebody probation that has these extreme beliefs, and was targeting law enforcement like that, unless I'm missing just some kind of critical evidence, that seems incredibly light because these people are really, really dangerous," said Heidi Beirich the Intelligence Project Director with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC says the sovereign citizen movement has been growing for six years, and because of the Bundy ranch protest in April, Nevada has attracted larger numbers of anti-government extremists.

The FBI office in southern Nevada declined to talk about how big of an issue the sovereign citizen movement is getting for Nevada.

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