An Arizona man who on Wednesday reportedly killed four people, including a 47-year-old grandmother and a 15-month-old infant, and then took his own life was also a former Republican Party official, a former white supremacist neo-Nazi and the founder of a border patrol vigilante group that advocated using violence on immigrants.
On Thursday morning, police in Gilbert, Arizona confirmed that J.T. (Jason Todd) Ready had committed suicide after killing his girlfriend, 47-year-old Lisa Mederos, along with her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and her granddaughter, according to The Arizona Republic.
Ready had a history of violence going back to the 1990s. He was arrested for aggravated assault with a weapon in 1992 and then court-martialed twice while in the Marine Corps in 1996. He was discharged after being found guilty of conspiracy, assault, and wrongful solicitation and advice.
After failing to win a bid for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2004, Ready made headlines for firing a pistol at a Latino man while running for Mesa City Council in March 2006. His candidacy ended when an attempt to become master of ceremonies at the Mesa Veteran’s Day parade when his his courts-martial were revealed.
By running unopposed in 2006, Ready successfully secured a position as Maricopa County Republican precinct committeeman in a west Mesa district. In 2007, he gave a speech at a neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) rally as a “Arizona Republican activist.” Later that year, Ready created a profile on NSM’s neo-Nazi New Saxon website.
Even after exposing himself as a white supremacist, ready shared the stage with state Senator Russell Pearce at an anti-immigration rally in June 2007. Pearce later said that he had been unaware of Ready’s neo-Nazi connections.
In an interview with Fox 10, Ready called Pearce, who sponsored Arizona’s anti-immigration SB1070 law, a “surrogate father” who “enlightened him.” Ready had claimed that he had been with Pearce’s son, Josh, when the younger Pearce got a racist tattoo on his neck and chest — an iron eagle with a swastika.
Seven months after Ready distributed racist and anti-Semitic materials at a Republican Committee meeting, Arizona congressmen John Shadegg, Jeff Flake, and Trent Franks wrote to the chairman of the local Republican Party and asked that he be ousted as precinct committeeman.
Pearce told KPHO on Wednesday that he had only supported Ready before his affiliation with the white supremacist movement had become public.
“I worked with others to have him removed from his local position within our Republican Party because there has never been and will never be any room in our party or our lives for those preaching hatred,” the state senator said. “He was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with J.T.”
After being rejected by the Republican Party, Ready found a home as a leader in the NSM. He participated in several events between 2009 and 2010 to support Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Ready showed up with other NSM members to protest a Latino-organized “March for Respect” in May 2009, where his group “gave Nazi salutes, shouted ‘Sieg Heil’ and yelled derogatory remarks at the crowd while stomping on the Mexican flag,” according to the ADL.
Possibly encouraged by Arizona’s anti-immigration law, Ready claimed in June 2010 that he had left the NSM movement to form the “US Border Guard,” an extremist border patrol group.
In an email obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, Ready invited fellow Arizona residents to join what he called “the Minuteman Project on steroids!” and asked them to bring “plenty of firearms and ammo.”
“The invasion stops here,” he wrote.
A 2010 report by former Channel One News reporter Steven Fabian featured Ready on patrol in southern Arizona. The group was armed with assault rifles and grenades.
“We’ll kill them,” Ready insisted in the video. “We’ll kill them. We’ll kill the narco-terrorists.”
Although he claimed to have left the NSM movement, his New Saxon profile called on people to “pick up AR-15′s and join him in defending our nation against invasion… only extreme violence of force will keep us free.”
“He was very angry,” Pastor Magdalena Schwartz, who had a few run-ins with Ready, told KPHOon Wednesday.
NSM member Harry Hughes reacted with shock after Wednesday’s killings.
“I think this is horrible,” he told The Arizona Republic. “I want everyone to know J.T. Ready was the last person on Earth I’d figure to have done anything to hurt a child. It really caught me off guard. Despite all the rhetoric and the stuff we’re going to hear about him being the evil Nazi, he was a good man.”
Heather Morton, who knew Ready and the victims, said that he had been so “cruel and controlling” that Lisa Mederos’ daughter, Amber, had moved out of the house a few months ago with her daughter and fiance. All of them were victims of the shooting.
Morton recalled that Ready often ridiculed the infant for being half Hispanic.
“He said, ‘She’s 50 percent ugly,’ that’s how he described her,” Morton said.
Watch this video from KPHO, broadcast May 2, 2012.