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Gilbert, A.Z. Killings Victim, Suspect Patrolled Border, Friend Says

9:07 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
Police stand outside a home in Gilbert, AZ on May 3, 2012.(Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic)
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Gilbert, AZ (Craig Harris azcentral.com)-J.T. Ready, the suspected gunman in a Gilbert, Arizona shooting rampage, and one of the slain victims would conduct border patrols together looking for illegal immigrants, according to a person who knew both men and took part in the patrols.

Harry Huges, a regional director of the national Socialist Movement, said Thursday that Ready and Jim "Jambob" Hiott had rescued him last month after he got stuck in the sand in a remote area near Yuma.  The National Socialist Movement is a white-supremacist, neo-Nazi group.

"J.T. and Jim appeared to be friends.  They had been together on other exercises, and we went out in the desert too," Hughes said in a phone interview Thursday.  "He (Hiott) had been to my home a couple of times.  He was a good man."

Meanwhile, law enforcement said Thursday they found six military-grade grenades in the Gilbert home where the mass killing occurred.

A federal official said the 40mm grenades typically are used by combat infantry to defeat light-armored vehicles, and they can be launched up to 300 meters with precision accuracy.  He said it's a felony to possess such weapons, and ATF believes the devices belonged to Ready. 

Officials with Gilbert Police, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the FBI interviewed Hughes Wednesday evening at his Pinal County residence in Maricopa, which Ready had listed as his home address in papers that the alleged killer had filed to run for Pinal County sheriff.

Hughes said law enforcement had asked him questions about Ready, but they did not seize anything from his home.

"They wanted to know what everybody else wants and that is, what was up with J.T. ?" Hughes said.

"The media has fingered him as the shooter, but I'm going to be patient and let science dictate what happened.  I have a hard time believing he would have done that."

Authorities say it appears Ready went on a shooting rampage in a Gilbert home Wednesday, fatally wounding three other adults and a 15-month-old baby before committing suicide.

Among the victims was Hiott, who served in Afghanistan with the National Guard, and Amber Mederos, Hiott's girlfriend, and Amber's baby girl, Lillly.  The other victim was Lisa Mederos, who was Ready's girlfriend and Amber's mother.

Hughes said the last time he saw Ready and Hiott was April 11, when the pair helped rescue him after Hughes got stuck in the middle of the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range near Yuma that runs along the Mexican border.

Hughes also said that Hiott had been a part of Ready's U.S. Border Guard & Border Rangers search and rescue group that would patrol the desert with semi-automatic rifles and guns.

Tom Mangan, special agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Thursday that the six grenades were found in the Gilbert home where the mass killing took place, along with two military-grade smoke-generated hand grenades and commercial-type fireworks.

Gilbert police called ATF to the site after finding the devices durning it's investigation of the crime scene.

"Mr. Ready has claimed a connection to militia and anti-goverment groups.  Hopefully, in the course of our investigation we will find out how he obtained them," Mangan said.  "We believe that they were his."

Mangan said a bomb squad from Luke Air Force Base came to the Gilbert home and took possession of all the grenades.

"Obviously, these items are restricted and are for military use and should not have been in the possession of this house, "Mangan said. "We will investigate how they wound up in this residence."

Mangan said law enforcement will trace the stock numbers on the grenades to determine where they originated.

Ready, a White supremacist who led armed patrols of the Mexico border, was being monitored by at least two national groups that track potentially violent extremist movements. 

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