Popular teacher arrested for criminal threats

April 12, 2012

Brian Miller

Police arrested a popular San Luis Obispo High School teacher on March 29 after he sent threatening emails and then created a ruckus when he refused to leave the district’s continuation campus.

Brian Sanford Miller, 55, had been on voluntary leave from SLO High when he showed up at the Pacific Beach Continuation High School and asked what math classes he would be teaching in the fall of 2012. After the principal told Miller he would not be teaching any classes, Miller became upset, refused to leave and told the principal “I’m going to be on T.V. today.”

Following his arrest, police discovered a threatening email miller sent to the San Luis Coastal Teachers Association the day before in which Miller describes his frustration with the association.

“Guess what builds up and explodes? Frustration, it ain’t anger. Anger is wildly taking a gun and shooting someone for no reason. Guys don’t snap one day and decide to shoot up their workplace instead of a convenience store. Guys snap and shoot up the office because for eight years, they got treated like ****, when they asked for help and were ridiculed. Then, they don’t give a **** at some point. I’m going to the office. I will probably die there. But three random people get to die with me, their lives destroyed, just like mine,” the email says

Police arrested Miller for attempted criminal threats, a felony; threatening a school employee, a felony; and disruptive presence at a school, a misdemeanor. He was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.



  1. rogerfreberg says:

    From some of those who have sat in his class… I hear that politics dominated his curriculum. I hear tell that even my name popped up in his class… no doubt in a discussion of solving simultaneous equations!

    (-7) 9 Total Votes - 1 up - 8 down
  2. Downtown Bob says:

    This teacher was a nut and very unorganized when I had him back in 1986 upstairs at the SLO High school. He was easy for health/SRI but Mr. Smith was way more popular back in the day at least. I remember his rants about how bad Reagan was and other BS. Sad story but I am personally surprised it took this long for him to act out. Love these uninformed students coming to his aid, as if they know anything about what this adult is capable of.

    (-1) 17 Total Votes - 8 up - 9 down
  3. Slowerfaster says:

    Better option than ‘Suicide by Cop’.

    The email a plea for help. A person in crisis…lashing out .

    I do not know this guy, but it looks like he was grasping and came up with this desperate measure.
    He did not, in fact, harm or hurt anyone.

    Now, threats should not be taken lightly. He was wrong in doing so.

    Is it worth incarcerating this man, for all of us ? I don’t know…but I would guess that counseling would be the preferred solution.

    (-2) 12 Total Votes - 5 up - 7 down
  4. mkaney says:

    The comments thus far have been frightening. This is like a bad movie where someone says the wrong thing and suddenly they find themselves trapped in some spooky psychiatric hospital and no one will listen to them. For those people who are more level headed and understand how something can be misinterpreted especially if poorly written while under duress, there is a facebook page to support him. Maybe the rest of you ought to read some of the things on that page before coming to conclusions.


    (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
    • Cindy says:

      I agree, see my post at the bottom of the page.

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
      • Slowerfaster says:

        Well, most of us have formulated opinions on your mental health ( or lack of it ) , so …what the heck !

        [ Winky faced emoticon indicating satire ]

        (-3) 5 Total Votes - 1 up - 4 down
    • jumping in says:

      I agree. Most of the articles are leaving out the rest of the story and what he wrote. Mr. Miller is an advocate for his students, and I would have no problem having any of my children in his class. SLOHS is out of touch when it comes to helping students with “real” problems. They have a long history of “trying to look good” while not addressing the issues of the students unless of course they are the top tier students. I pray Mr. Miller gets good representation and am proud of the students that are standing up for him and voicing their opinion.

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
    • jackbnimble says:

      I have read all the testimonials (on various news sites) about Brian Miller’s great reputation as a teacher and the support he is receiving from his former students. It soundsl ike he was a uniquely dedicated teacher. In reading his email sent to the Teachers Association, I can even almost agree with his insight about anger vs. frustration and shooting up a random convenience store vs. one’s workplace (although surely in this day and age, writing such a thing may have been poor judgment).

      But here is what I can’t get past: his threat to kill himself and 3 random people. I am not asking this in a argumentative way, but can you please explain how this can be rationalized as something the administration shouldn’t be concerned about? This has been my stumbling block.

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • mkaney says:

        Oh let me clarify myself. I do think it is something that they should be concerned about, and calling the police was the correct thing to do. But putting him in jail on $1,000,000 bail is crazy. I think that ultimately the whole thing can be handled without filing any charges, especially felony charges. I think a 72-hour hold would have been sufficient, and after they searched his house and found no weapons, then it shouldn’t be as big of a concern. Keep in mind that people do not generally give a lot of warning if what they’re actually going to do is go on a shooting spree. In any case, while he’s held on a hold, people should’ve first and foremost asked “Why? Why would he say something like that? What is he pissed off about? Maybe we should hear him out before we turn this into a federal case.” One interesting fact is that his wife died about a year ago, so obviously that would be a major contributor,

        I don’t think that the costs associated with a lawyer, a $1,000,000 bail, and putting him in a jail cell is going to do much to help the situation gets resolved, and I think 20 something years as a decent teacher ought to earn him SOME benefit of the doubt.

        (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
        • jackbnimble says:

          Thanks. You may have even convinced me. Clearly he needs psychological help (or at least an evaluation) more than anything else. I’m guessing the police felt they had to go extreme to show that they take school-related threats seriously (as they should, although there are so many other moving parts here). Thanks again.

          (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  5. Black_Copter_Pilot says:

    This guy has been wring to the Trib for a very long time….some would say you could see this coming


    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  6. Ted Slanders says:

    Where is the mental state of this fool by blatantly sending emails of murderous threats to the San Luis Coastal Teachers Association? Albeit, this will be his defense!

    Well, if convicted, only one more felony charge and he is put away for life with California’s 3 strikes and you’re out law. Good job Mr. Brian Sanford Miller!

    (0) 14 Total Votes - 7 up - 7 down
  7. mkaney says:

    Thanks for picking up this story. This greatly concerns me and a many other former students. Although the email that he wrote is highly questionable, and perhaps grounds for dismissal, it does not seem to be grounds for imprisonment… ESPECIALLY because they didn’t even find out about it until AFTER he was arrested. Mr. Miller is an excellent teacher and it seems to me that this is all being taken out of context and he is getting railroaded.

    (0) 34 Total Votes - 17 up - 17 down
    • abigchocoholic says:

      “…it seems to me that this is all being taken out of context and he is getting railroaded.”
      Nope. This guy crossed the line big time. He had the murder and suicide thoughts and he wrote them down and delivered them. That’s a serious crime. How would you like to be the one he takes with him?

      Read his words again. “I will probably die there. But three random people get to die with me, their lives destroyed, just like mine,” the email says”

      (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
    • slowtime says:

      Railroaded? If these written words in the article are his, this is damning evidence. These are not words of good intentions and are actually meant to terrorize and bring fear to those receiving the letter. It does not matter if the email was discovered during the investigation after the arrest, he was arrested to remove him from the immediate problem at the moment. Thank you SLPD for defusing a potential tragedy.

      (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
    • Ted Slanders says:


      A hypothetical; subsequent to knowing the facts listed in this story, and since he was allegedly railroaded and these charges were dropped, subsequently, would you be comfortable with your kids being in his class? Would the kids in general be comfortable as well? Mine wouldn’t!

      What school district in their right mind hire a teacher with such a threatening past? His career is over.

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
      • mkaney says:

        Yeah man, in fact I was in his class. That’s the problem here…this is being interpreted from the perspective of people who have no knowledge of him whatsoever, and so they are taking WORDS not actions, and prosecuting him for that. Like I said, maybe at the worst it’s grounds for dismissal. In any case, he probably did this intentionally to get media attention onto something which concerns students, so considering that perhaps you should HOPE your kids were students of a teacher like this.

        (-4) 14 Total Votes - 5 up - 9 down
        • Cindy says:

          Many of his students are supporting him in the Tribune threads. One of his students provided more off the e-mail for context purposes. That student brings attention to the fact that this teacher is writing in the 3rd person until he gets to where he used the world “I” ( I will probably die there). The student suggests that knowing this teachers style, he was in fact referring to what others are thinking when they go postal and why.

          (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down

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