J.T. Ready, Arizona's most prominent neo-Nazi and the one-time political protege of recalled state Senate President Russell Pearce, reportedly is dead by his own hand in what's described as a multiple murder-suicide in Gilbert that left four others slain, including a 2-year- old.
A one-time member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, Ready, 39, was a committed white supremacist, a former Republican precinct committeeman, and a failed candidate for the Mesa City Council.
Charismatic and articulate, he was once a rising star in Arizona's burgeoning, anti-Mexican nativist movement where his inflammatory rhetoric and radical political ideas were largely embraced.
However, his far-right extremist ties eventually became so overt that the anti-immigrant movement shunned him as an embarrassment.
Ready openly marched with neo-Nazis in the streets of Phoenix, Riverside, California, and elsewhere, sometimes in full battle gear, other times carrying a swastika flag or a portrait of Adolf Hitler, whom he called "a great white civil rights leader."
In recent years, he took to patrolling the desert in search of illegal immigrants and cartel members with groups of neo-Nazis and white supremacists whom he led.
The most recent incarnation of these militias was U.S. Border Guard, whose patrols regularly ran across stranded or dead migrants and drug stashes in the an area of the desert on the border of Pinal and Maricopa counties called the Vekol Valley.
Despite the fringe nature of the group, the U.S. Border Patrol regularly took custody of migrants that Ready's group captured. Ready also turned over drug caches he claimed his group had stumbled upon to the agency.
Ready often posted pictures of these desert forays, and his cohort, NSM member Harry Hughes, would write accounts of the outings in his blog Just another day. Videographer Dennis Gilman and I once accompanied one of Ready's patrols, which was equal parts absurd and creepy.
A mini-documentary Dennis Gilman and I collaborated on, detailing the history of the Pearce-Ready connection
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Ready was his relationship with ex-Senator Pearce, who helped him join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and groomed him, according to Ready, for a possible run for the legislature.
Footage of Ready and Pearce, via Dennis Gilman
Ready said Pearce treated him as a member of his family, though Pearce was ultimately forced to renounce Ready in 2008 after numerous stories by myself exposing their relationship.