Celina Father Found Not Guilty After Improvised Active Shooter Drill - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Celina Father Found Not Guilty After Improvised Active Shooter Drill



    A Collin County jury found Ron Miller not guilty of terroristic threat against a public servant Wednesday. The Celina father conducted an improvised test of school security at his child's elementary school in 2013. (Published Wednesday, April 16, 2014)

    The Celina father accused of threatening workers at his child's elementary school as part of an improvised test of school security has been found not guilty Wednesday.

    Ron Miller, 44, was charged with making a terroristic threat against a public servant after he allegedly told employees at Celina Elementary School that he had a gun and was a shooter.

    It took a Collin County jury just 45 minutes to acquit Miller, who had been on trial since Monday for the misdemeanor.

    “It is closure,” Miller said, breathing a deep sigh of relief. “It was not my intent to cause any harm at all or to make anybody afraid. That was not my intent. I just wanted to make sure the kids were safe, more specifically, my child and everyone else’s child.”

    Miller was accused of walking up to his son’s school on Jan. 9, 2013, and telling employees outside and in the school’s office that he was there to test their security.

    Teachers and staff testified that Miller stated that he was a gunman and that his target was inside, questioning them, “What are you going to do?”

    George Milner III, Miller’s defense attorney, questioned why those at the school didn't immediately call the police if they felt threatened, as the testified they had, and said that it was the prosecution’s job to prove that Miller intended to cause the level of fear the women said they felt under his questioning.

    Milner told the jury what is at stake in this case is not whether or not his client made a good or bad decision in conducting his own drill, but rather if prosecutors had proved intent to cause harm.

    The lead investigator in the case from the Celina PD testified that, in his opinion, Miller’s intent was clear, because his behavior "escalated" as he moved from the sidewalk into the school office.

    Staff were offered counseling in the weeks following the incident, with some actually going through the therapy.

    Milner told NBC 5 his client was dealing with deep grief, after losing his 16-year-old daughter to cancer not long before the incident at Celina Elementary.  Milner added the Miller family had dealt with security questions involving Celina Independent School District before, including, he said, that the Miller’s 7-year-old son was able to wander away from the school during the fall semester of 2012 — just months before Miller’s arrest.

    Then, Milner said, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had his client thinking hard about school security in his hometown, adding the Millers couldn't bear to lose another child.

    After his acquittal, Miller refused to discuss the details of what was going through his mind that day. He gave only an apology to the five women who testified of their fear.

    He adds his goal is to get back to normal, including his hope to one day be allowed back on the campus of his son's elementary school.

    “I hope that I get permission to go back up to the school and visit my son and have lunch with him once again,” Miller said. “I miss that very much. It’s been over a year."

    The district did not immediately comment on if they plan on removing the ban on Miller’s presence.

    "I understand a man wanting to be in his child's school life," said Celina ISD Superintendent Donny O'Dell. "We don't want to be vindictive."

    O'Dell said the district will talk to law enforcement and make a decision at a later time.

    "The courts have spoken. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with them," said O'Dell. "We're going to get on with finishing out the school year."

    Had he been convicted, Miller could have faced up to a year in jail and a fine.

    NBC 5's Josh Ault contributed to this story.