Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2019

Currently: 66° — Complete forecast

Victim who went after gunman in Wal-Mart wanted to be cop, mom says


courtesy C.J. Foster

In an undated family photo, Joseph Wilcox is seen with younger sister C.J. Foster, center, and his mother, Debra Wilcox.

Metro Officers Slain: 6/8/14

Metro Police are seen outside a Wal-Mart on Nellis Boulevard between Charleston Boulevard and Stewart Avenue, where two people allegedly fired shots after killing two officers at a nearby CiCi's Pizza. The suspects then killed themselves. Launch slideshow »

Joseph Wilcox often didn't carry his handgun any more. The novelty had worn off since he received a concealed-carry permit earlier this year.

That's what his aunt recalls from a Saturday night visit.

But the next day, Wilcox picked up his handgun for a trip to Wal-Mart on Nellis Boulevard.

That decision ended up being fatal.

Wilcox, a 31-year-old Las Vegas native, died trying to stop two shooters inside the Wal-Mart. Wilcox pulled out his handgun to stop gunman Jerad Miller but was shot by Miller's wife, Amanda. Wilcox didn't know it but the Millers had just shot two Metro Police officers at a nearby pizza joint, according to police.

At Wilcox's home on Monday, Wilcox's family remembered him as an easygoing, fun-loving man who liked playing with computers and video games, four-wheeling with his friends and going to see films with younger sister C.J. Foster, 18, his "movie buddy."

"He got me excited over the dumbest movies sometimes," C.J. said. He especially wanted to see the upcoming superhero flick "Guardians of the Galaxy."

"He was so excited to see that," she said.

Wilcox was a "mama's boy" — his mom said — who took care of family and friends without complaint. He was homeschooled for a while before completing his high school education online, family said. Though he worked several different jobs over the years, Wilcox had been out of work. C.J. said he was trying to develop a "first-person zombie shooter" game on his phone that he could sell.

Debra Wilcox said her son and his longtime friend, Jeremy Tanner, went to Wal-Mart on Sunday to return a modem. Afterward, they were supposed to go swimming with family.

They considered going to a different Wal-Mart closer to Wilcox's brother's house. They planned to rendezvous with his brother before going swimming.

But Wilcox was eager to return the modem. So they drove to the closest Wal-Mart, which was on Nellis Boulevard.

Wilcox was at the customer service counter when he heard someone yell "revolution." The man had a gun. He ordered everyone out of the store.

Tanner froze. Wilcox went after him.

"He didn't think twice when he went after the gunman," Tanner said.

But Wilcox didn't see Amanda Miller.

As Wilcox approached Jerad Miller, Amanda Miller shot Wilcox, killing him, police said.

Tanner described Wilcox as "pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment." His mother, Debra, said he got a concealed carry permit because he worried about Las Vegas violence.

Debra Wilcox said her son wanted to protect people.

Joseph Wilcox talked about becoming a police officer. He checked online for job openings but, his mom said, he got busy helping others.

Debra Wilcox also wasn't excited about her son becoming a police officer.

"Joseph, you don't want to do that," she warned him.

"Why not?" she recalled him asking.

"Because they get shot," she remembered tearfully. "And I don't want someone to come tell me you were shot and killed."

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy