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Armored gunman, 4 people dead in Arizona shooting

J. T. Ready for Sheriff via Facebook

J. T. Ready, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, was among five dead at a shooting at a home in Gilbert, Arizona. He was running for Pinal County Sheriff.

Updated at 1:22 a.m. ET: A man equipped with several firearms and body armor killed four people, including a toddler, on Wednesday in Gilbert, Ariz., authorities told azcentral.com. They believe he then killed himself.  

J. T. Ready, a neo-Nazi and member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, was among the dead, according to azcentral.com. It is unclear what role he played in the shootings. Unnamed police sources identified Ready as the gunman, azcentral.com reported.

Sergeant Bill Balafas told msnbc.com that he could not confirm whether Ready was even among the dead or if the crime was a murder-suicide. He said police are still identifying the dead.

"There were a few weapons in the house and we don't know if there was a gun battle or if it was a murder-suicide," Balafas said.

The shooting took place after 1 p.m.

At a briefing for reporters, Balafas said all the evidence points to the shooting being related to domestic violence. He didn't elaborate.

Two handguns and a shotgun were recovered from the crime scene. Balafas said investigators had obtained a search warrant Wednesday evening and a bomb squad was sweeping the house for precautionary reasons.

Authorities said a search of the home and positive identification of the bodies were pending as police wait for a federal agency to remove unknown chemicals and munitions from inside and outside of the home for officer safety.

FBI spokesman Manuel Johnson said federal agents were at the scene "providing personnel and technical assistance" to Gilbert police, but that the police department was the lead agency.

Down the street from where the shooting took place, neighbor Lieselotte Senge said she heard a loud boom around 1 p.m. and stepped out onto her stoop to see where it came from.

“All of a sudden I saw all of the police cars,” Senge told msnbc.com. They were in the garage of a woman who Senge said had a daughter and infant granddaughter.

On arrival, first responders believed the toddler, who was between one and 2-years-old, showed signs of life. She was transported to a children’s hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival, Balafas said.

Law enforcement agents had been nervous about Ready, according to a 2010 story by the Associated Press. He led a militia group that focused on nabbing undocumented immigrants and drug traffickers along the Mexican border. He was also heavily armed and a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi.

“These are explicit Nazis,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project told the AP. “These are people who wear swastikas on their sleeves.”

In Gilbert, a city of 208,000 southeast of Phoenix, neighbor Senge watched as school children had been escorted to their homes by police officers. The shooting had taken place three doors down from her house, at a bend in the road where Tumbleweed Road becomes Monteray Street.

She said it’s a nice neighborhood of single-family homes where neighbors, apart from the occasional wave, mostly keep to themselves.

This report contains material from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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