Itasca County man charged with opening fire at deputies
An Itasca County man was irate over being urinated on by a dog before he assaulted two family members and opened fire on deputies who responded to the scene, according to charges filed Thursday.
Roy Thomas Miller, 44, was arraigned in State District Court in Grand Rapids on a dozen charges related to the Feb. 10 incident, which prompted three officers to return fire.
A criminal complaint alleges that Miller punched and threw objects at his wife and stepson before retrieving a firearm in the course of the altercation at the Walker Road residence, about 6 miles north of Hill City and just north of the Aitkin County line. The victims were able to escape to another residence and call for help, the complaint said.
Miller allegedly got into a vehicle and fired multiple shots at the deputies. Lt. A.J. Morse, Sgt. Ryan Gunderson and Deputy Derek Peterlin all returned fire before Miller sideswiped two squad cars, crashed into a ditch and surrendered, according to the complaint.
Miller was treated at a Duluth hospital, though authorities have not specified the nature or severity of his injuries. Records show that he was booked into the Itasca County Jail on Tuesday.
Miller is charged with five counts of attempted intentional second-degree murder, five counts of first-degree assault and two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Sarah McBroom set bail at $500,000 with conditions or $1 million without. She also granted a request for Miller to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine if he is competent to proceed in court.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the actions of the deputies, who were placed on standard administrative leave after discharging their weapons. Once complete, the agency’s reports will be turned over to the Itasca County Attorney’s Office for review.
According to the criminal complaint:
An Aitkin County man reported to police that his ex-wife and son were at his house after being assaulted by Miller. A deputy who responded to the residence observed that the two victims were covered in blood.
The woman told deputies that the incident started when Miller picked up the family dog, which then peed on him. When the wife and son began to laugh, Miller became “upset and aggressive.” After the woman said she was going to call 911, Miller grabbed her cellphone and broke it.
Miller allegedly threw the woman to the ground and punched her in the face with a closed fist. He also punched the stepson and threw a humidifier at him, the victims told police.
As the two victims attempted to leave the house, Miller retrieved a firearm and told them, “You need to get out of here.” Miller followed them out the door and headbutted the rear window of the Jeep, shattering it.
The wife told investigators that Miller had multiple firearms in the residence and had been making suicidal references recently. She said living with him was like “Jekyll and Hyde.”
The son reported that he believed his nose may have been broken and difficulty seeing out of one of his eyes. Knowing Miller had firearms, he said he was so scared that he ran out of the residence without proper clothing or anything on his feet.
Both victims were treated at a Grand Rapids hospital for facial bruises and swelling.
Meanwhile, five Itasca County deputies were dispatched to Miller’s residence in an attempt to make contact. As they approached the driveway, they reported hearing two gunshots overhead.
Soon after, Miller drove by in a pickup truck. Officers commanded him to stop, but he instead raised a handgun and began firing shots in their direction.
Three deputies returned fire and the truck struck two squads before going into a ditch. Officers continued to give commands before Miller threw the gun out the window and exited the truck. He was arrested and provided medical treatment.
A search of Minnesota court records shows only traffic violations and a recent petty misdemeanor conviction for reckless handling of a dangerous weapon in Miller’s history.