Jerad Miller was ready to share his anti-government views with just about anyone who would listen, views that telegraphed his desire to kill police officers and his willingness to die for what he hoped would be a revolution against the government.
He told neighbors, television reporters and the Internet. Once, on the phone with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, he threatened to "start shooting people."
If local or federal authorities were monitoring his online rants and increasingly sharp threats, they aren't saying — not with police still investigating what triggered Miller and his wife to gun down two officers and a third man Sunday before taking their own lives.
Even if Miller had attracted the attention of law enforcement, authorities would initially have been confined to knocking on his door and starting a conversation to try to gauge whether he was a true threat. His opinions were free speech, protected by the First Amendment. And given limited resources and rules against creating government watch lists, it would be impossible to keep tabs on everyone who actively promotes beliefs that may — or may not — turn to violence.
"In this particular situation, I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said the signs weren't there," Finch said.
In January, Miller called a recorded help line of Indiana's motor vehicles bureau after he was pulled over in Nevada and found to have a suspended license from the state he had recently left. At the end of the call, Miller said, "If they come to arrest me for noncompliance or whatever, I'm just going to start shooting people," according to agency spokeswoman Danielle Dean.
The bureau contacted Nevada's Department of Public Safety and provided a copy of the recording, which the department's investigation division forwarded to a state-run threat analysis center on Jan. 22, spokeswoman Gail Powell said. The threat center forwarded the information to the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center, a combined project of federal, state and local authorities.
What happened next is unclear; the counterterrorism center did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Is saying "I'm just going to start shooting people," really protected by the 1st Amendment? Isn't it a crime to say such a thing?
Why don't we arrest all those who say such things? If found to be a real danger, these people need to be disarmed.