After an argument with his girlfriend’s family, Miles Jones walked away seething, according to police. “This isn’t over. Nobody’s safe,” they quoted him as saying as he stormed off to his car, parked nearby at an upper Bucks County campground where the family was holding its annual reunion.
He came back with a 9 mm handgun and opened fire on Eric Braxton, 41, who tried to stop him, investigators said. He shot Arthur Hill, 46, in the back as he tried to flee the chaos with his son, they said. The victims, both from Philadelphia, were fatally wounded.
Jones, 41, of North Philadelphia, faced his victims’ families in a Quakertown courtroom Tuesday, a little more than three months after that deadly altercation at the Homestead Campground in West Rockhill Township.
Prosecutors have charged Jones with two counts of criminal homicide, possessing a gun without a license, possessing an instrument of crime, and 13 counts of reckless endangerment. This was his first arrest, according to investigators.
After a two-hour, standing-room-only hearing, District Judge Lisa Gaier held Jones over for trial on all charges, and he’ll be arraigned in County Court in March.
Jones’ attorney, Ken Hone, contended that the shootings were in self-defense. Deputy District Attorney Edward Louka disputed that, saying Jones acted “with murder on his mind.”
“For someone who supposedly didn’t want anyone dead, he couldn’t have acted more contrary to that intent,” Louka said. “He had no regard whatsoever for anyone’s life that night.”
Police officers responding to reports of gunfire at the campground on Oct. 19 found Jones dazed, sitting on the ground near a cluster of tents, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest.
Jones had been invited to join his girlfriend — who has not been identified by police — her family, and their close friends on their yearly camping trip, investigators said. It was Jones’ first time at the outing.
Just before 2 a.m., after most of the 15 campers had retreated to their tents for the night, Hill and his two sons heard screams coming from the tent that Jones was sharing with his girlfriend, the affidavit said. They found Jones standing outside the tent, trying to push it over as his girlfriend screamed for help from inside.
Jones shoved Hill when he tried to intervene, and Hill’s son punched Jones in the face, knocking him down. The group told Jones to sit in his car and cool off. He did, making a threat as he left that “all you ... gonna pay for this,” according to the affidavit.
Minutes later, Jones started walking toward the group again, and Braxton tried to intercept him. Jones demanded that Braxton get out of his way, investigators said. When he refused, they said, Jones shot him once in the chest at point-blank range.
The group scattered, with Hill and his sons running from the scene. As they fled, one of Hill’s sons heard him cry out and watched as his father fell to the ground, a gunshot wound in his back, according to the affidavit.
One of Hill’s sons made a frantic 911 call as he hid in the woods nearby, his voice kept low, fearful that Jones was chasing him, according to a record of the call played in District Court on Tuesday. When he went back to check on his father, the young man broke down.
“He’s not breathing,” Hill’s son said through his tears. “He’s not breathing.”