JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What began as an attempt to execute a domestic battery warrant quickly turned into an investigation into suspected dog fighting, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Jacksonville police said it all began on July 17, when officers showed up at a home on Lantana Avenue to execute an arrest warrant on Jauron Miller Sr., 48, who was wanted on a charge of domestic violence. According to the arrest report, officers received a First Coast Crime Stoppers tip that Miller was living at the home.
According to investigators, when police arrived at the home and knocked on the door, they heard noises in the backyard, and when they approached that area, they discovered an alleged dogfighting match. The arrest report states that when spectators saw officers approaching, someone yelled “police,” and multiple people started running and jumping the fence to get away.
“Even being a spectator at a dog fight is a felony,” said Jim Crosby, a former Jacksonville police officer who is now one of the nation’s leading experts on dog fighting investigations and prosecutions. “If I was a spectator, I would be very concerned because I would figure that my liberty, even if they hadn’t got me yet is going to come to an end.”
He said all the spectators could face charges.
“You can go to prison for one to three years. You can have your car seized. The Sheriff’s Office has the potential to seize this residential property if it belongs to any of the participants or attendees,” Crosby said.
Jacksonville police said they detained one man at the scene after they found him hiding in a shed on the property. They also detained three people who were all taken to JSO headquarters for questioning.
Police also said the people who ran away left cash and five cellphones on the ground. Some of the cash was covered in blood. Several vehicles were also left at the property.
Police also noted in the report that the rear door of the home was left open, and Miller, who is the homeowner, was nowhere to be found. Investigators said they presumed he was one of the people who ran away when officers made their way toward the back of the home.
A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said that the following day, all the vehicles that had been left were gone. It’s unclear if JSO had the vehicles towed or if the owners came back and took them. That neighbor also said she saw animal control removing multiple dogs from the property.
The JSO vice unit took over the suspected dogfighting investigation and spoke to the three people who were detained. According to the arrest report, all three people identified one of the dogs as Mo and said that Mo belonged to Miller.
Mo was taken into protective custody by animal control officers. Further information about Mo, the bloody money, cellphones and the shed at the back of the property were redacted from the report, but it did go on to say that more warrants had been issued for Miller’s arrest.
On Aug. 25, police were dispatched to Miller’s home in reference to a domestic dispute. Officers said they found Miller hiding in a closet and took him into custody.
Miller is charged with one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, one felony count of dog fighting, one felony count of promoting dog fighting and one misdemeanor count of domestic battery.
Miller bonded out of jail two days after he was arrested.