Police report details scene of Gilbert shootings - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Police report details scene of Gilbert shootings

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2012 6:30 am

It all began with neighbors hearing gunshots. Then, two frantic 911 calls followed.

When officers arrived at 530 W. Tumbleweed Road in Gilbert, amid the gruesome scene of blood and bodies they found 15-month-old Lilly Mederos, barely clinging to life.

“Her arms and neck were still warm to the touch, and we both detected a pulse on the inner part of her upper left arm,” an officer stated in the Gilbert police report released this week about what is believed to be the worst incidence of violence in the town’s history.

Fire crews rushed in to save the toddler, but an hour later, she was pronounced dead at Maricopa Medical Center.

By now, most people know the tragic story: On May 2, J.T. Ready, 39, former leader of a neo-Nazi group, killed four people before taking his own life. The 106-page report released by the Gilbert Police Department provides more details about the horror that unfolded that day, including the fact that Ready shot all of his victims — his girlfriend, Lisa Mederos, 47; Mederos’ daughter, Amber Mederos, 23; Amber’s fiance, Jim Hiott, 24; and Amber’s daughter, Lilly — in the head or face before shooting himself in the head.

The first two bodies officers encountered were Ready and Hiott, both lying near the front door, and then the other three bodies were found inside, near the front of the house. By Ready’s body: a camouflage handgun.

Wearing a denim jumper and lying closest to the door, “Baby Lilly” Mederos was clinging to life after officers discovered her in a puddle of blood. She had a faint pulse.

The only other sign of life in the home: the sounds of someone crying in a locked bedroom. Officers kicked in the door and discovered a hysterical Brittany Mederos, 18, who had hidden in the room during the shootings and called 911, the second emergency call made from the home. The first 911 call had been made by Brittany’s mother who was shot and killed in the middle of the call.

Officers had to lead Brittany out of the house, in plain view of the carnage. Minutes later, the teenager was faced with the task of identifying the bodies of her loved ones.

Officers on the scene immediately identified one of the deceased as Ready, the head of the U.S. Border Guard, a vigilante group patrolling for illegal immigrants smuggling drugs or humans through the deserts of Pinal County. Officers also recognized him from previous calls — at least five in the past few years — they had responded to at the Gilbert home, including once when Lisa Mederos accused Ready of choking her.

Authorities, assisted by the FBI, confiscated military-grade weapons out of the home, including firearms, grenades and a grenade launcher, prohibited by federal law to be owned by an individual. The FBI is working to determine how Ready acquired the grenade launcher. A representative from the FBI could not be reached for comment.

The report listed 22 police officers and nine Gilbert firefighters who responded to the home, as well as military personnel from Luke Air Force Base who provided security at the scene.

The tragedy came exactly one year after one of Mederos’ neighbors called police on the household because someone had raised an American flag in the backyard and burned a tree stump, marking the day American forces killed Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The neighbor said she saw Ready, wearing camouflage clothing, come outside the home and extinguish the fire with a garden hose.

The day before the shootings, another neighbor said that when he saw Ready put a shotgun and body armor inside his vehicle, he asked Ready if he was a hunter.

After Ready told him that he was, the neighbor asked him what he hunted. Ready responded: “two-legged varmints” and that “they shoot back.”

The neighbor told police, “It didn’t seem like Jason (J.T.) was in a very good mood that day,” but he didn’t know why.

Another neighbor who had helped Ready and Mederos put screens on their windows a day before the killings, said that Ready was wearing a new bullet-proof vest because he said, “he had to get used to it.”

“He was worried about being invaded, but that wasn’t unusual behavior for him,” the neighbor said.

Friends of Amber and Brittany Mederos said that Lisa Mederos was trying to end her relationship with Ready as she was becoming more aware of his “violent tendencies,” and he did not like Lisa’s children living in the house or visiting, the report stated.

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