The son of a retired U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel will not face criminal charges in the father’s shooting death at the family’s Valrico home last year.
A review by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office released Tuesday found that evidence supported the account 23-year-old Brody Missler gave to investigators after shooting his father Timothy two days before Thanksgiving. Brody Missler said he feared for his safety because his father reached for a gun during an argument at their home in FishHawk Ranch.
“Our review determined that the evidence is consistent with the victim’s assertion that Timothy Missler moved to arm himself with a firearm while intoxicated, emotionally disturbed, and having recently been both verbally and physically aggressive toward the victim,” said a summary of the review by the office of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.
Brody Missler told his father not to arm himself but the man “ignored the warnings and picked up the firearm,” the review said. “In response, the victim shot Missler, which caused Missler to fall to the floor with his arm underneath his body.”
Uncertain whether Missler was still armed, the review said, Brody Missler fired again, causing the fatal wound.
The review did not name Brody Missler because of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.
Warren’s office said the shooter was the victim of an aggravated assault. The Tampa Bay Times previously identified Brody Missler as the shooter based on a search warrant affidavit filed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office made the right decision after a thorough investigation, said Anthony Rickman, Brody Missler’s attorney.
“This was a tragic situation where my client had to act in self-defense,” Rickman said. “Brody had to make a split-second decision. It’s not something he wanted to do, it’s not something he ever envisioned doing. It’s something he had to do.”
Rickman said investigators considered the shooting in the context of escalating family tension.
Investigators learned that a family argument began the day before the shooting between Timothy Missler and his brother Andrew Missler, who was visiting from out of town for the holidays, according to the state attorney’s review. Timothy worked as a military contractor and had returned from Afghanistan about a week before the shooting after having been gone for about four months.
The two brothers had been drinking before the argument and it carried into the next day, Nov. 24, according to the review. Timothy Missler left the family home in the 15000 block of Starling Water Dr. to continue drinking with a friend. His wife Colleen drove Andrew Missler to a hotel.
Timothy Missler returned to the house and found Brody Missler home by himself. The father became hostile and argumentative toward his son and continued drinking, the review said. Missler made statements about his marriage and his relationship with his brother being “over” and also told his son, “You’re dead to me,” the review said.
Timothy Missler then went to a kitchen cabinet where Brody Missler knew his father kept a loaded gun.
“The victim told (Timothy) Missler to not grab the gun, but Missler ignored him, picked up the gun and began to remove it from its holster,” the review said. “In fear for his safety, the victim then drew the firearm he carried in a holster on his own hip and shot Missler.”
The shot caused Timothy Missler to fall to the right, face down on the ground, with his arm under his body. The gun fell to ground in the opposite direction. From his vantage point, Brody Missler could see his father but the kitchen island blocked his view of the gun, according to the review.
“Uncertain of the gun’s location, and with Missler still moving and his arm concealed under his body, the victim remained fearful,” the review said. “He approached Missler and fired multiple shots at him as he lay on the ground.”
The State Attorney’s Office released the 911 call Brody Missler made to report he had shot his father.
The operator asked if the shooting was an accident or on purpose.
“On purpose, ma’am,” a panting Missler replied. “He was getting his gun, ma’am. He’s been aggressive.”
Missler told a second operator during the call that his father returned to the house and was “belligerent and he was shoving me.” He said his father told him his marriage was over and went to a cabinet where a gun was kept.
“I wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it, ma’am, so I shot him,” Missler said. “I shot him and he went down and he was still moving and I wasn’t sure if he had his gun so I shot him when he was down there, ma’am.”
Missler died from a gunshot wound to the back of his head near the base of the skull, an autopsy found.
According to his Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Timothy Missler served in the Marines for 22 years, retired as a lieutenant colonel and went to work as an instructor pilot for L3 Technologies.
From 2014 to 2016, he worked in Tampa at Marine Corps Central Command, or MARCENT, according to his LinkedIn profile. Among his duties, the profile said, was to supervise “three top secret and secret operational and concept supporting plans to Central Command’s … series campaign plans.” The command is located at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base
Missler’s Facebook page, which appears to have been deactivated, described him as a “happily married father of two wonderful boys.”
Rickman, the attorney, previously told the Times that the family lived in a number of cities and countries around the world and came to Hillsborough after Timothy Missler’s deployment in Okinawa, Japan, ended.
At Newsome High, Brody Missler excelled as a student and participated in the JROTC program, Rickman said. He graduated from USF with a degree in biomedical science and a minor in psychology. He’s working to get his EMT certification and has plans to join either the Army or Marines.
“The family is completely supportive of Brody and has stood behind him from day one,” Rickman said Tuesday. “Friends of the family understand Brody is a great kid and it’s such a horrible thing that he had to do, what he did to save himself, and unfortunately it was his father who put him in that position.”
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