"They served well," I said to my friend, and she teared up. It was 1995, I was quoting President Clinton's words about the Federal workers who, with the citizens they served, were annihilated in the Oklahoma City bombing.
My friend is a National Parks Service ranger, she wears a uniform. She is a civil servant, like the workers at the Alfred P.Murrah Building. She is a historian, a guide, a manager, and a visible face of the National Parks-- preserved for the good and enjoyment of all.
Although we might become numb to the constant assault on our sense of sanity with mass shootings, and the daily body count from the most afflicted parts of our cities, this one is different.
She was Amanda Miller's best friend. Amanda and her husband, Jerad Miller, had moved from Indiana to Las Vegas and for two weeks had been living with Fielder.I wonder in what neighborhood 2 young people could push a loaded cart full of weapons without anyone calling the cops...
Jerad was always going off, she recalled, spewing anti-government rants. He filled his Facebook page with political cartoons that mocked police and other authorities. A recent post read: 'We must ... prepare for war."
Then something really disturbing.
Around 5:45 Sunday morning, Fielder told CNN, the couple were awake. They had a cart full of ammunition.
What were they doing? she asked.
They told her they were "going underground," Fielder said.
"The revolution has begun," Jerad Miller told Fielder.
"I should have called the cops," she said Monday. "I'm so, so, so sorry -- to everybody. I'm sorry."
A neighbor told NBC News the couple left their apartment with a shopping cart full of weapons. Jerad Miller reportedly told the woman, "We gotta do what we gotta do," while his wife hugged the neighbor, saying "I am so sorry."Crime happens, but this unprovoked murder of 3 men had no possible motivation outside of belief in a cause. The shooters weren't out to rob and they had no escape plan. Or perhaps they thought reinforcements would arrive, like the gun-waving militia that assembled at the Bundy Ranch.
Another neighbor said he had heard anti-government statements from the Millers before, that they wanted to overthrow the government and President Barack Obama and kill police officers.
Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Monday the suspects had ideology that was along the lines of "militia and white supremacists." He said they put a "Don't Tread On Me" flag and a swastika on one of the officers they shot at the restaurant.
They had faith, like Timothy McVeigh. Their Heaven is Hell for most of us, but they have shown their readiness to shed blood. There's nothing random about this violence.
Words have consequences. The flood of hate speech that most of us tune out finds a home in the minds of troubled individuals and a resentful minority that wants to 'take our country back'. Add the easy availability of weapons of war and it's no surprise that self-appointed revolutionaries take aim at unsuspecting officers of the peace.
Expect the extreme right to publicly disown this act, but privately these two will be awarded the martyrdom and glory they sought.