When police first found a hunting guide and his client bleeding from gunshot wounds on a south Texas ranch in early January, everyone on the scene had their stories straight.
The hunters told police they suspected the shooters were undocumented immigrants they had seen on the ranch earlier in their trip. Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller.
But it was a lie, according to police and, now, a grand jury. Investigators determined that guides Walker Daughetry and Michael Bryant in fact shot at one another by accident, striking Daughetry and hunter Edwin Roberts in the process. Daughetry and Bryant were indicted for third-degree felonies last Wednesday.
Miller, who previously courted online infamy with a vulgar tweet about Hillary Clinton during last year’s election campaign, deleted his initial Facebook post about the incident after news broke that police were suspicious of the hunters’ story. But his leap to promote the hunters’ story in the immediate wake of the shootings was more labor-intensive than simply sharing a news report.
Miller’s initial post included two pictures of Daugherty, including one showing him in his hospital bed hooked up to medical machinery. “The aliendswere ambushing the RV that Walker and his wife. He was shot while trying to protect his hunters from the attack. Walker is a man of God and is now a hero,” Miller wrote (sic).
“This is why we need the wall and to secure our borders,” he wrote. (You can see the deleted post for yourself here.)
But Miller’s portrayal of the incident promotes the very paranoia about security along the border that appears to have played a role in the events that put Daughetry and Roberts in the hospital.
The actual incident, police say, occurred because Walker Daughetry got it into his head that border-crossers “were inside the RV that Edwin and his wife were in, in an attempt to kidnap them. Instead of announcing himself, Walker allegedly tried opening the RV,” the local CBS news channel reports, prompting Roberts to fire a shot at the door.
Miller was reportedly being considered as a finalist to head Trump’s Department of Agriculture, up until the president nominated Georgia Republican Sonny Perdue for the job.