Two men charged with murder in a deadly dispute between neighbors in Abilene, Tex., were arrested for a second time after video of the shooting made national headlines.
Police took John Miller, 67, and his son, Michael Miller, 31, into custody Friday, citing “great concern” for the community. They are charged with murder in the death of Aaron Howard, 37. Father and son were arrested for the first time on Sept. 1, the day of the shooting, and were freed after paying a $25,000 bond each.
The county district attorney filed a motion Friday declaring the original bond insufficient and the court agreed, Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said in a statement. The Millers are back in jail, Standridge said, each with a $250,000 bond.
Standridge did not say why the county district attorney waited 20 days after the incident to file the motion. On Thursday, the day before the filing, local and national news outlets published video of the argument and shooting, which quickly circulated, generating conversation in Abilene and across the country on social media.
Neither the district attorney’s office nor the police department responded to requests for comment.
In a brief interview with The Washington Post the day before they were arrested again, the Millers declined to discuss the charges against them.
"I really don’t have a comment one way or the other,” John Miller said by phone. “This is something that I consider a private matter between me and the state of Texas.”
The video surfaced after Kara Box, Howard’s common-law wife and witness to the shooting, released it to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which published it. Box’s cellphone footage, which runs for two and a half minutes, shows an argument between the two suspects and the victim.
The dispute started with a disagreement over the disposal of a mattress in an alley adjacent to the Miller and Howard houses, Box told the Star-Telegram. (Police say it was a box spring.)
Box and Howard had thrown the mattress into the dumpster a couple of days earlier, she said. But on Sept. 1, they saw the mattress back on their property. Howard moved it back to the dumpster. Box said Howard’s nieces, nephews and brothers were with them. She told the paper that she and her husband then watched the elder Miller walk to the dumpster, pull the mattress out and toss it back onto Howard’s property.
Box told KTXS, a local TV channel, that this was the first time the neighbors had spoken to one another.
Howard and Miller began shouting at each other, Box said. Then John Miller pulled a handgun out of his shorts and his son arrived with a shotgun. Box started to record.
In the video, John Miller can be seen holding his handgun at his side. Behind him, Michael Miller is resting a shotgun on his shoulder, behind his head, his other hand in the front pocket of his jeans. The Millers are shirtless.
“Back off. . . . If you come closer to me, I’m gonna kill you,” John Miller says calmly.
In an interview with the Star-Telegram, Box said Howard was protective of his family, especially his nieces and nephews — to whom he refers as “my kids” in the video.
“I’m at the dumpster,” Howard shouts back. “Put the gun up and go inside. You pulled a gun in front of my kids over . . . a mattress.”
The three begin trading insults, and Howard tells the Millers, “I promise you, you’re both dead. . . . I’m gonna kill you.”
On Friday, police said that when the first shots were fired, Howard had a bat in his hand but was about seven feet away from the Millers. After the first two shots, police said, Howard was unarmed, but the Millers fired again.
Howard died of gunshot and shotgun wounds to the chest, KTXS reported. The Millers admitted the killing, police said. It was not immediately clear who would represent the father and son in court.