Father Says Son’s Slaying a Sign of Times

Times Staff Writers

The father of 15-year-old Mark Miller said it was not surprising to him that his son would meet such an end. He spoke of the boy’s drinking, his association with members of a San Fernando Valley street gang and the rowdy teen clubs where his son hung out.

“I knew it would happen before it happened,” said Michael Miller, 34. “Los Angeles is changing. It’s violent. It’s become a very violent city.”

The elder Miller spoke at a gathering of his son’s relatives and friends after the boy’s funeral Monday.

Mark Miller, who lived in Hollywood, was shot to death outside a popular teen dance club in Van Nuys early Saturday, in a fight that police said was prompted by another teen-ager’s comment about the hair of Miller’s 13-year-old girlfriend.


Police arrested Tony Nguyen, 21, of Canoga Park and an unidentified 16-year-old boy on suspicion of murder. Both youths, Vietnamese immigrants, are being held without bail, Nguyen at the Van Nuys Jail and the 16-year-old at Sylmar Juvenile Hall.

Friends of the suspects said Monday they fear reprisals from members of the youth gang friendly with Miller.

A Granada Hills teen-ager said she is on “the list” of the gang because she aided the two slaying suspects after they fled from the Hot Trax disco on Van Nuys Boulevard. The girl, 15-year-old Georgette Chandler, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of harboring fugitives, but was released to her mother.

“I told the detective we were scared,” the mother, Joy Chandler, said, “and he just shrugged his shoulders and looked at me like, that’s too bad, your daughter was involved with the wrong sort.”


Detective Mel Arnold said Miller was shot once in the head at 2 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot behind Hot Trax. He said Miller and at least six people suspected of being members of Fight For Freedom, a Valley-based gang, were continuing a fight that began at the club Wednesday night when the 16-year-old suspect admired and touched the purple, punk-style hair of Miller’s girlfriend.

The two suspects reportedly were beaten until club “bouncers” broke up the fight and ejected the group from the club Wednesday. But the feuding youths agreed to resume their fight when the club closed Friday night, police said.

“Everybody knew there was going to be a fight. They had an appointment,” Arnold said.

Arnold said that, when the time arrived, Miller and his friends approached the suspects with sticks and broken bottles, unaware that the two were armed.

The detective said police are seeking witnesses to “what transpired in those crucial five to six seconds.”

Georgette Chandler said she had befriended the suspects at a party last month. She said they knocked on her bedroom window at 3 a.m. Saturday and asked to sleep in her backyard.

In the morning, the two nervously recounted the previous night’s events, she said. “They were crying and very shaken. In their words it was an accident. They didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” she said.

Police said they traced the two to Chandler’s house on Donmetz Street and saw the two boys fleeing over a fence. A police dog found the suspects in a garage nearby, police said.


Joy Chandler said her daughter had been told by friends that the fff gang is out to get her. “Whether they are a real threat or not, they’ve built a reputation to scare kids to death. Out of fear of what that gang could do, this is what happened,” Joy Chandler said.

Mark Miller’s friends described him as a popular, attractive youth and a promising football player. But they also said he liked to drink and fight, and that he had flunked out of a college preparatory school before enrolling in Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.

“Mark was fighting for his girlfriend’s honor,” said his mother, Karen Miller. “You know how that goes. He’s 15, strong, handsome and wanted to be his girlfriend’s Prince Valiant for the evening.”

The teen club reopened uneventfully at 9 p.m. Monday after being closed the two nights after the shooting.