GILBERT, Ariz. (AP) — When Jason Todd Ready took to the Arizona desert armed with assault rifles and dressed in camouflage to look for illegal immigrants, some feared that the reputed neo-Nazi's rhetoric would turn to serious violence.
But police say blood was shed elsewhere: When Ready leveled his gun at four people and pulled the trigger, he was in a saguaro-lined neighborhood in the quiet middle-class Phoenix suburb of Gilbert where he lived with his girlfriend and her family.
Ready's girlfriend, 47-year-old Lisa Lynn Mederos, made a domestic-violence call to 911 asking the police to come help her on Wednesday. Seconds later, the operator heard gunshots and the line went dead.
When police arrived they found the bodies of Lisa Lynn Mederos and her daughter, 23-year-old Amber Nieve Mederos, inside the home. Dead outside were Ready and Amber's boyfriend, 24-year-old Jim Franklin Hiott.
Amber's 16-month-old daughter Lily was still alive inside but was pronounced dead soon after at a hospital.
Police say Ready killed them all before fatally turning the gun on himself, saying that all the evidence points to domestic violence.
Many considered Ready, a burly 39-year-old who went by "JT," to be the most high-profile neo-Nazi in Arizona. He led groups of heavily armed civilians into the desert to look for illegal immigrants as he repeatedly tried to win public office.
But Ready's beliefs and actions got so extreme, including statements that land mines would be a good way to stop border crossers, that the state's most conservative politicians distanced themselves from him.
Unwelcome among Republicans, Ready ran in January for sheriff as a Democrat. He continued to lead immigration patrols and posted Facebook updates, but there was little generally known suggesting his personal life was in turmoil.
But Gilbert police Sgt. Bill Balafas said that police responded to the Mederos home five times since 2009, most recently in February, when Lisa Mederos called police to report that Ready had choked her in August 2011.
Balafas said there was not enough evidence to make an arrest and that no charges were filed. It's unclear why Mederos would have waited six months to make the call.
The other times police responded to the home included a suicide threat by Amber Mederos in November 2009 and a suspicious activity report filed by Ready, Balafas said.
Inside the Mederos home police found six military-issue grenades, and their serial numbers will be traced, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Tom Mangan said Thursday.
The grenades required a launcher, and Mangan said authorities did not find one.
The killings and Ready's involvement stunned members of his group, the U.S. Border Guard.
"Our sympathies go out to all of his family and friends during this time of unbelievable grief and pain," according to a statement posted on its website. "God bless you, J.T. You will be fiercely missed."
Harry Hughes, a regional director for the National Socialist Movement who went out on patrols with Ready, said the shooting was "completely out of character" for Ready.
"And I'm going to not speculate or make any conclusions. I'm going to let the investigation go take its course," Hughes said. "But I have a real hard time believing that JT Ready could actually shoot and kill a child."
Anti-hate groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have for years tracked Ready. "JT Ready was a violent thug who typifies the very worst element in the American nativist movement," said the SPLC's Mark Potok.
According to an SPLC profile on its website, Ready was court-martialed twice in 1996 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, the first time after being gone for eight days without permission.