By John M. Glionna and Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS — Neighbors of the young couple believed responsible for gunning down two police officers, killing a Walmart shopper, then shooting themselves to death, said the pair owned a variety of guns and talked of being disillusioned with government and police.
A neighbor at the Oak Tree Apartments, where the couple lived, said they recently moved to Las Vegas from a small town in Indiana. When they learned of the standoff between the federal Bureau of Land Management and cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, an incident that became a lightning rod for armed libertarians, the couple traveled to the site, the neighbor said.
“At first he was OK, then the Bundy Ranch thing happened and things changed,” said Larry Burnette, a neighbor of the couple. “Him and his wife went out there carrying guns. I tried to tell them not to go, but they were so against the police. They wanted the cops to go away and leave the Bundys alone.”
“The couple were only gone a day or so,” according to Burnette, who said the visit seemed to cement their views. “By then they had really turned against the government.”
A senior federal law enforcement official in Washington said that the Las Vegas shooters told at least one neighbor in their apartment complex that they had been to the Cliven Bundy ranch area to show their support but that the Bundy family “kicked them off or kicked them away” and that they were not allowed to join the protests.
“We’re still running all that down,” the source said. “If true, that’s an avenue we want to know about.”
Bundy said Monday that he did not know the shooters.
“I certainly did not know them by name, but I haven’t seen the pictures yet, to be able to identify them,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know who they are.
“I don’t know of any conflicts,” Bundy said. “I never ran anyone off my ranch, and neither did my family. I don’t know how long they stayed here, if they ever came, but we never run ’em off.”
Bundy said he has not been contacted by either the FBI or Las Vegas Metropolitan police, but said he would cooperate with authorities.
The federal law enforcement source, speaking anonymously because the investigation is still underway, added that the FBI and Las Vegas Metro police have executed two search warrants for the couple’s home and vehicle and were still sorting through any evidence found there. The official did not know whether the couple was married, but added that “the lady did all the shooting.”
Police on Monday were continuing their investigation into the shooting that began when two officers were shot eating lunch at a local pizza shop. Police say the couple entered CiCi’s Pizza restaurant and killed officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who are both husbands and fathers.
The law-enforcement source said the woman approached the first officer from behind after he had stepped up to get a refill on his soda at the restaurant and shot him in the back of the head. The second officer fired off a shot in return, the source said, but the woman shot and killed him too.
The couple then went to the Walmart where shots were reported five minutes later and a person was gunned down just inside the front door. The couple exchanged gunfire with police before killing themselves, police said. The female suspect shot the male suspect before killing herself.
One of the shooters yelled, “The revolution is about to start,” according to a witness at the store.
“It’s a tragic day,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said. “But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with an emptiness in our hearts.”
Police have not released the identity of the shooters.
The Oak Tree Apartments are in a busy, rundown part of town, about two miles east of the downtown area. It houses mainly transients but there are some longtime dwellers like Burnette, who said he has lived there for 22 years.
“They were from some little hick town in Indiana whose name I forget,” Burnette told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
The woman “was an nice young kid. I would never guess she would do anything like this,” he said. He described her as about 22 and the man as about 31. They had a lot of guns in their apartment, including a 12-gauge shotgun and 9mm handguns.
The woman, who was originally blond, then went dark-haired, worked in a toy store, Burnette said.
He said he didn’t know what the man did, but the couple would often dress up in costumes and go to have their pictures taken with tourists for money. The couple said they were planning on going back to Indiana, Burnette said.
AFP Photo/Ethan Miller