A California man who was jailed for ‘terrorizing’ his neighbor has been charged with killing him just two months after his release.
Miles Armstead, 44, had been doing yard work outside of his home on the 7500 block of Ney Avenue in Oakland on May 1, when his former neighbor, Jamal Thomas, 43, allegedly shot him in the back of the head.
‘He pulled a gun, Miles saw the gun, he turned around, got shot in the back of the head, hit the ground, he shot him a bunch of times,’ a witness, who did not wish to be identified, told KTVU.
Hours later, Oakland police arrested Thomas, who is believed to be homeless having recently been evicted from the home next door to Armstead’s.
Thomas was charged on Friday with eight felonies, including murder and assault with a deadly weapon, according to The Mercury News.
Miles Armstead (left), 44, had been doing yard work outside of his home on the 7500 block of Ney Avenue in Oakland on Friday, when his former neighbor, Jamal Thomas (right), 43, allegedly shot him in the back of the head
Armstead recently moved into the home on 76th and Ney with his pregnant second wife, Melina, and his three children, neighbor Louella Robinson said
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said Thomas had previously been arrested for making ‘terrorist threats’ against Armstead and threatening to burn down his home.
Thomas was released from police custody on February 28.
Authorities and neighbors say he repeatedly vandalized the victim’s home in the weeks after, including an incident as recently as April 6, where Thomas is said to have thrown a brick through Armstead’s window, narrowly missing him.
Oakland police issued a warrant for Thomas’ arrest in connection with the incident.
But he was not detained until after Armstead’s murder.
‘He kept calling the police, calling the police, and then Jamal lays low, and then he comes back, soon as you let your guard down he attacks again,’ the anonymous witness told KTVU.
Armstead recently moved into the home on 76th and Ney with his pregnant second wife, Melina, and his three children, neighbor Louella Robinson told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thomas, meanwhile, had been living on Ney Avenue for over 20 years before he was reportedly evicted. The circumstances of his apparent eviction were not immediately clear.
‘They had a little thing going between them,’ she said about the two men. ‘We don’t know what it was. Some kind of way I guess they fell out.’
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said Thomas had previously been arrested for making ‘terrorist threats’ against Armstead (above), threatening to burn down his home, however he was released on February 28
Armstead recently moved into the home on 76th and Ney with his pregnant second wife, Melina (left), and his three children
Cards, flowers and candles lay out front of the home where Miles was killed in tribute
Robinson said she had witnessed Thomas throw rocks through the windows of Armstead’s house, shattering the glass.
The victim has recently boarded up his windows, listed the home for sale and moved his family out over concerns for their safety. He had been delivering materials to construction workers carrying out renovations when he was killed.
‘He and his wife, they had to get away from that house,’ Robinson told the Chronicle.
According to a GoFundMe page set up by his friend Jennifer Shallat, Armstead worked as a wealth manager at Fremont Bank. He was also a dedicated soccer coach for his three children and had been expecting a fourth child, a baby girl, with his Melina in August.
‘Miles has always wanted the best for his children as well and has worked hard to provide for them,’ Shallat wrote. ‘It was his dream that they would all have a good life, and he was integral in making that happen.’
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said Thomas had previously been arrested for making ‘terrorist threats’ against Armstead, threatening to burn down his home, however he was released on February 28
Robinson, meanwhile, had been inside when she heard the unmistakable clapping of gunfire outside of her home on Friday.
By the time she ran outside, the suspect had disappeared.
She said both she and her fellow neighbors were stunned to learn that it was reportedly Thomas who pulled the trigger.
‘Thomas was a good kid, coming up and everything — that’s why everybody’s kind of in a state of shock,’ Robinson said. ‘We [are] still kind of wondering what happened between them two.’
Tributes to doting father Miles Armstead have flooded onto social media since news of his death became public.
‘There are no words that can express the deep void in my soul. Never would I have imagined that I would be parted from you so soon,’ his wife Melina wrote on Facebook. ‘Your laughter brought me joy, your strength brought me comfort, your love for others made me love you more than I ever thought humanly possible.
‘You worked so hard always but especially in this last month to remove our family from our home which no longer was safe,’ she continued. ‘Relentless, day and night you worked; because of this we are safe, but now you are physically gone and the ache in my heart is unfathomable.’
Friend Lauren Deane wrote: ‘The happiest guy in the room is no longer with us and I am deeply pained by the loss. Miles Armstead was the embodiment of love and light.
‘Miles, I’ll miss your smiles. My heart breaks for his wife Melina, their children, and all of his family and friends.’
Tributes to doting father Armstead have flooded onto social media since news of his death became public
Melina and Miles were expecting a baby girl together in August, family members revealed
Friend Lauren Deane wrote: ”The happiest guy in the room is no longer with us and I am deeply pained by the loss. Miles Armstead was the embodiment of love and light. ‘Miles, I’ll miss your smiles. My heart breaks for his wife Melina, their children, and all of his family and friends’
Kelly said law enforcement did all they could in the long-running saga between Thomas and Armstead by making the first arrest and issuing a warrant for the second.
However, the sergeant said the judicial system missed an opportunity ‘to keep this gentleman in custody’, criticizing the state for putting too many criminals back on the street.
California’s Judicial Council enacted emergency powers in mid-April to set bail at zero in misdemeanor and low-level felony cases to prevent the spread of coronavirus in jails.
If Thomas had been arrested for the brick incident – which carried charges of misdemeanor vandalism and felony assault with the potential to cause great bodily injury — in early April, ‘he would’ve been out of jail in six or seven hours,’ Kelly told the Chronicle.
‘I think this victim would still be alive if Mr. Thomas was held on his previous charges,’ Kelly said. ‘It’s heartbreaking that this gentleman lost his life. I mean, how many more red flags do you need?’