Texas medic cleared of terror threat at elementary school
He told employees at his son's school that he had a gun; he said he was there to test school security and staged his own impromptu active shooter drill, a month after the Sandy Hook shooting
By Valerie Wigglesworth and Catherine Ross
The Dallas Morning News
CELINA, Texas — A Celina man was found not guilty Wednesday of making a terroristic threat at Celina Elementary School, where he conducted his own active shooter drill last year.
Ronald J. Miller, 45, told people he had a gun as he walked into his son’s school on Jan. 9, 2013. He told employees he was there to test school security.
“What are you going to do?” Miller asked, according to trial testimony from school staff. He left his name and number so he could be contacted for follow-up.
As it turned out, Miller did not have a gun.
The improvised drill came less than a month after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 students and six employees were killed.
Several Celina Elementary employees testified during Miller’s three-day trial about being afraid during his drill.
Miller was charged with making a terroristic threat against a public servant, a Class A misdemeanor. Had he been convicted, he would have faced up to a year in prison.
The six-person jury deliberated less than an hour before reaching a verdict.
“It is closure,” Miller told KXAS-TV (NBC5) after the trial. “It was not my intent to cause any harm at all or to make anybody afraid. ... I just wanted to make sure the kids were safe — my child and everyone else’s child.”
Defense attorney George Milner said the case hinged on whether prosecutors could prove Miller had intended to cause harm, not whether they could show he used poor judgment.
Milner said the incident stemmed from stress his client felt after several events: the loss of his 16-year-old daughter to cancer; the Sandy Hook massacre; and a fall 2012 incident in which Miller’s 7-year-old son wandered away from the school.
Celina ISD Superintendent Donny O’Dell offered no opinion on the verdict.
“The courts have spoken. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with them,” O’Dell told KXAS. “We’re going to get on with finishing out the school year.”
The district banned Miller from the school after the incident. He said he hopes he’ll be allowed back on campus so he can have lunch with his son.
“I miss that very much,” he told KXAS. “It’s been over a year.”
|McClatchy-Tribune News Service|