It's tough to imagine how one goes from drinking and partying with friends to breaking into a neighbor's house wielding a gun, but that is the path Palm Beach County sheriff's detectives say Robert Rashard Tomlin, 22, followed the night before he was killed by former band teacher Heath Miller.
Tomlin's sister, Tocarra Thompson, told detectives that she and her brother had been hanging out at a friend's place on White Pine Drive in Wellington
the night of February 15, 2009. Around 10:30 p.m., Tomlin left with his
friends Sheldon Leung and Darryl Woodson to get more beer.
Leung told detectives that his girlfriend, who was hosting the party, kicked them out because she wanted to go to sleep. But before the men went to the store for more booze, Tomlin offered to keep an eye on Leung's .40 caliber handgun. Apparently, Leung didn't want to carry the weapon into the store.
So Woodson and Leung bought some Olde English, then returned to find Tomlin gone, Leung told detectives. Tomlin briefly reappeared, grabbed a beer, then left again, still carrying Leung's gun.
By around 1 a.m. the next day, Tomlin had broken into Miller's bedroom -- a tenth of a mile away on White Pine Drive -- wearing a mask and wielding the gun.
Miller, who was in the middle of some private time with his wife, grabbed a .38 that he kept in the nightstand. "Get the fuck out of my house!" he shouted.
As his wife hid under the bed, she told detectives she heard Tomlin shoot first. A witness heard about six shots fired.
By the time sheriff's deputies arrived, Tomlin was dead. A bottle of Olde English sat on the floor near his body.
Although sheriff's detectives investigated the shooting for several months, no charges were ever filed against Miller. He was, however, charged two months later with sexual battery and molestation for allegedly sexually assaulting four of his band students at H.L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens.