to C&L's blog fundraiser. Thanks!
It's beginning to emerge that the two men who shot and killed two police officers and wounded two more before being killed themselves in West Memphis, Arkansas, on Thursday were probably white supremacists from a small operation in southern Ohio. Why they opened fire on the cops remains a mystery, but this could be an important developing story:
Two police officers were fatally shot and another two were wounded Thursday in two separate shootings allegedly by the same suspects in West Memphis, Arkansas, police said.
The two suspects, who were using an assault weapon, were themselves fatally shot, said Inspector Bert Shelton, who is assigned to city hall for the West Memphis Police Department.
The incident began around 11:36 a.m. (12:36 p.m. ET), when West Memphis patrolman Bill Evans made a traffic stop on a white minivan traveling eastbound on I-40 at Airport Road, said Bill Sadler, public information officer for the Arkansas State Police.
After the vehicle exited the Interstate onto an off-ramp near College Avenue, Sgt. Brandon Paudert arrived on the scene as backup, Sadler said.
"It is our belief that Officer Evans was shoved to the ground by one of the suspects in the minivan and gunfire was directed at both officers," Sadler said.
The suspects then fled, driving east in the minivan, leaving one man dead and the other fatally wounded.
Within minutes, officers from other agencies -- including the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission -- began to converge on the area, looking for the suspects, he said.
About 90 minutes later, a minivan believed to be the one that had been seen leaving the shooting site was spotted in a parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart, Sadler said.
There, it was approached by Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Enforcement Officer W.A. Wren, who were traveling in the same vehicle, he said.
Both men were wounded in a gunbattle initiated by the suspects, who were using a long rifle and a handgun, Sadler said.
It turns out that the white van you see in the video was registered to an old Aryan Nations church in the small town of New Vienna, Ohio:
The two gunmen connected to the shootings in West Memphis that left two West Memphis police officers dead Thursday, drove a van that's registered to a church in Ohio. According to records with the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, the plates on the gunmen’s van are registered to “House of God’s Prayer” in New Vienna, Ohio.
The church was once affiliated with Harold Ray Redfeairn, a white supremacist preacher who died in 2003. Redfeairn was a leader of the Aryan Nation. He was also convicted of trying to kill a cop in 1979. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, Redfeairn was sentenced to four consecutive seven-year minimum terms for attempted aggravated murder, but was paroled in 1991.
It cannot be proven the gunmen are tied to the Aryan group, but the van used by the suspects in this shootout was never reported stolen. The vehicle’s plates were renewed last summer, and set to expire next month.
The two shooters have been identified, but not much is known about them yet:
People claiming to be relatives of the two, however, told The Commercial Appeal they could identify them from numerous videos and photographs taken at the crime scene and available on Memphis media websites. They identified the men as Jerry Kane, 45, of Ohio and his 16-year-old son, Joseph.
Kane's own website this morning bears a note indicating the two were "shot down" by law enforcement in West Memphis.
The Commercial Appeal could not independently confirm the suspects' identification.
Attempts to verify the information led to a woman named Donna Lee in central Florida who said she was married to Jerry Kane and that Joe, as she called him, was her 16-year-old stepson. She wanted to emphasize Joseph Kane is a minor. She said the white minivan belonged to Jerry and was positive from photos and videos from the scene that the two unidentified dead suspects were Jerry and Joe Kane -- and that the dog she saw exiting the minivan was a labrador-rottweiler mix named Olie.
Another man, Jake Jefferson, said he was a nephew of Jerry Kane's and said he was positive that the dead person he saw in news accounts was 16-year-old Joe Kane, that the white minivan had belonged to Jerry for some time and they traveled the country helping people with mortgage and foreclosure issues. He also said he recognized the dog, and that Jerry and Joe had spent a month with him at his home in the Phoenix area over Christmas.
Jefferson and Lee both said Joe's mother had died previously. Jefferson said they traveled with a box of her ashes in the van.
"That's them," he said. "And why do I think they fired on police? Because they must have believed the police were going to fire on them."
The Internet company that hosted a website devoted to Jerry Kane's business has now published a memorial page that says "Jerry Kane & Joe Kane. Father and son killed in W. Memphis." At the top of the site it says, "Funds are now needed to bring Jerry and Joe back to Florida and for their funeral costs."
Continue reading »