Yesterday, Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready killed 5 people including himself in a mass shooting in Gilbert, Arizona. Police this morning confirmed yesterday’s reports, stating, “The evidence to this point, which will still be verified, is leading us to believe Jason Ready is responsible for killing the other 4 and subsequently taking his own life.” While this tragedy has been met with an outcry and condolences from most of the nation, the far-right responded much differently.
Numerous conspiracy theories and attempts to portray Ready as a martyr are the two most common themes evident in the far-right’s reaction. On Ready’s Sheriff campaign Facebook page, the administrator wrote the following shortly after the shootings: “Reports are unconfirmed that a cartel assassination squad murdered JT Ready and several of his friends and family this afternoon in Gilbert Arizona. This page’s admin will keep you updated of the situation as soon as possible.” This sparked a 500+ comment explosion with many posters scoffing the claim that Ready was dead while others offered their condolences.
Ready’s militia-esque group, the “US Border Guard,” posted the following message of sympathy on its website for Ready, his family and friends: “The US Border Guard is extremely saddened by the ultimate loss of our founder, J.T. Ready and other souls in such a senseless act of violence. Our sympathies go out to all of his family and friends during this time of unbelievable grief and pain. God bless you, J.T. You will be fiercely missed.”
Not surprisingly, it was the white nationalist message board Stormfront where the vilest conspiracy theories arose: in a 15-page thread titled, “JT Ready in murder suicide shooting 5 dead,” dozens of false accusations can be found. Some blamed his death on the “ZOG” or “Zionist Occupied Government,” a decades-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, claiming that Jews are secretly controlling the US government. Other posters including prominent white nationalist April Gaede mimicked Ready’s Facebook admin by promoting the theory that the Mexican drug cartels put out a hit on him.
It was also in the Stormfront thread where many called Ready a martyr, putting him in the same category as other far-right figureheads such as David Lynch. Many who knew Ready posted comments remarking that there was “no way” Ready would commit murder. Others still commented that the whole situation “smelled fishy.”
One way or another, the far-right will use Ready’s death to serve their purposes and reinforce their racist ideologies. While Ready’s death may leave Arizona’s far right short of one of its most prominent leaders, there is no shortage of people who may rise to take his place.