Parents blame gang in slaying of eastern New Orleans 13-year-old

By Dinah Rogers, The Times-Picayune
May 12, 2009

Shaka-Daquan Miller held on to childish ways in the last year of his life, but his grasp faltered.

He played video games with his siblings and fished in Lake Pontchartrain. He hauled a weed-wacker and a mower over to his neighbors’ homes, spending afternoons grooming their yards, his father said.

Meanwhile, Miller warded off offers to join a well-armed street gang. And an argument with an blankistant principal got him tossed out of school, his mother said.

Then before he could settle into teenage life, Miller, 13, was shot to death.

On Monday afternoon, just six days after his grandfather died, Miller argued with a 14-year-old boy on the porch and in the yard of an eastern New Orleans home and was shot in the chest, in front of a large group of teenagers, authorities said.

Detectives arrested a 14-year-old and booked him with second-degree murder after witnesses told them he and Miller had argued about a previous encounter involving marijuana, New Orleans Police Department blankistant Superintendent Marlon Defillo said Tuesday. Police haven’t identified the 14-year-old.

Miller’s parents, J.D. and Linda Miller, said they believe it was more than a petty argument over marijuana that led to their son’s death. They say the alleged triggerman was a member of a gang, and that their son’s refusal to join irked the group.

Hounding the young teen

Ever since the Millers and their four children moved to the area near Crowder Boulevard and Dwyer Road last August, members of the “Blood Hound Gangstaz” have pestered her son, said Linda Miller, 38. They told him the group offered friends who would protect him, she said.

Miller, however, was repulsed by the idea, she said.

The red-themed Blood Hound MySpace page features pictures of its members flashing guns and pistol handles as part of their poses.

“He told them, ‘I don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to upset my parents, ‘ ” Miller said.

Several Blood Hounds grew tired of Miller’s resistance and decided to jump him in January, she said. Two cars pulled up to the Miller home one afternoon, and one of the occupants punched her son when he stepped outside, the mother said.

When J.D. Miller flung the door open and stepped to his son’s side, the unwanted visitors sped off.

The Millers called police and investigators booked one juvenile with battery in the incident, Defillo said. But he said nothing indicates that the 14-year-old charged in Monday’s shooting was at the house in January, or that he belongs to a gang.

Some rough spots

Life had gotten more complicated for Miller since January.

While attending Carver High School one day, he got into an argument with an blankistant principal investigating a pulled fire alarm, the Millers said. He was expelled.

In April, Recovery School District administrators blankigned the boy to Schwartz Alternative High School in Algiers, a district official said.

Last week, the boy’s grandfather, J.B. Miller, 68, died from lung cancer.

Meanwhile, he worked odd jobs to earn pocket money, mowing yards and helping out at his father’s concrete business. He spent the money on video games that he played with his brother Adam, 15, and his sister, Ayana, 12.

At other times, he toted a bucket and a fishing pole over to a spot alongside Lake Pontchartrain “but I don’t think he ever brought one back, ” Linda Miller said with a laugh.

Often, he threw the fish back as soon as he caught it. Or he would give it to others who hadn’t caught any, his sister said.

A tragic conclusion

The kil#i*gg Monday ended a feud between their son and the 14-year-old that began months ago, the Millers said, when the two got into a shoving match at Carver after the other boy teased Shaka about not joining the gang.

This week, one neighborhood resident told J.D. Miller that when his son and the gunman exchanged blows Monday, Miller got the upper hand. When Miller walked away, the enraged 14-year-old drew a pistol and fired a bullet into Shaka’s chest, according to the resident.

The wounded boy stumbled down the block to Kevin Ricard’s home and knocked, falling onto the driveway after Ricard answered. Ricard called 911 and cradled Miller’s head, and Ricard’s wife rushed out of the house and prayed over the dying teenager, he said.

J.D. Miller couldn’t fathom how a fistfight could spark a murder.

“A 14-year-old can’t stand to lose a fight and does that?” the father said.

Now, the Millers are thinking about selling their home and moving the family to a small town in Florida where J.D. Miller was born.

First, though, they are arranging to bury their second family member in a week.

“We came to this house with seven, ” Miller said with a sigh. “We’ll be leaving with five.”

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