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Bandleader kills gunman.

Heath Miller was selected as his school's most popular teacher in 2007, and band parents praise his leadership of the school's award-winning drum line called the Percussion Academy, but popularity doesn't mean that one will not become the victim of crime, just as the stresses of being a teacher don't prepare one mentally for a life-threatening criminal encounter. Well respected in his middle-school role as a band teacher, the 34-year-old Miller was thrust into a new role on February 16, as he shot and killed a masked gunman inside his home. The brief incident has caused a lot of stress for Miller. The Palm Beach Post reported that Miller's mother said, "He's better now, but he had to have sedatives to sleep this morning."

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office's account of the incident, Robert Tomlin, 22, broke into Miller's duplex through a sliding glass door at about 2 a.m. Miller's dogs began barking, alerting Miller and his wife, who huddled in their bedroom as the intruder moved around their home. Miller grabbed a .38-caliber pistol he keeps for protection and waited anxiously with his wife, Mirelle, as the intruder came closer.

When Miller saw through the bedroom doorway the silhouette of a man with a gun moving toward him, said Sgt. Pete Palenzuela, the sheriff's office spokesman, a gunfight ensued. After exchanging fire, the masked intruder stumbled toward the glass door, where he collapsed and died, Palenzuela said.

Detective Sgt. David Conklin did not know why Tomlin, who was dressed in black and wielded a .40-caliber handgun, slipped into Miller's duplex.

Incredibly, the newspaper account, which gave the stellar background of the victim, also then cited lengthy praise by relatives and friends of the criminal, Tomlin. The home invader was described in glowing terms, and those who knew him expressed doubt that he could have committed such a crime. This, despite the facts of the case contained in police accounts and investigations, and Tomlin's criminal history: he had been arrested six times since 2006 on charges including aggravated battery and violating probation, according to state records. The news coverage of the incident seemed designed and weighted to elicit sympathy for the crook rather than the intended victims!

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Title Annotation:EXERCISING THE RIGHT; Heath Miller
Author:Scholl, Alan
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Mar 16, 2009
Previous Article:A shotgun and a lecture.
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