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Arizona Sheriff Warns Border Vigilantes After Confrontation in Desert

By Bill Morlin on August 21, 2013 - 2:50 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Extremist Crime

Arizona’s Minuteman movement – composed of heavily armed, anti-immigrant vigilantes and militia-style groups that patrol the Southwest border – has a new critic: Joe Arpaio, who calls himself America’s “toughest sheriff.”

The Maricopa County sheriff sounded off yesterday after a man who identified himself as a “militia Minuteman” was arrested for pointing a military-style assault rifle at a sheriff’s deputy he apparently mistook for a drug smuggler last weekend.

“If they continue this, there could be some dead militia out there,” Arpaio said, according to The Associated Press.

“I have to commend my deputy for not killing this person, which easily could have happened,” Arpaio said. “He’s lucky he didn’t see 30 rounds fired into him.”

The suspect, identified as Richard Malley, 49, of Glendale, Ariz., was booked into jail on a charge of aggravated assault but later released on $10,000 bail pending a court hearing next week.

Malley reportedly was looking for drug runners Saturday night along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend, Ariz., according to various news reports. Maricopa County Deputy Pat Arend said Malley appeared from the side of the road armed with an AR-15 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol and a fixed-blade knife, the AP reported.

Apparently believing he had caught a drug smuggler, Malley pointed his rifle and shined a flashlight at the uniformed deputy. In response, the deputy, pointing to the word “sheriff” boldly printed on his chest, ordered Malley to drop his weapon.

“You aren’t taking my weapons,” replied Malley, according to court records. A second deputy eventually arrived and arrested Malley.

Arend said it is was a miracle that neither he nor Malley was shot in the brief encounter, USA Today reported.

Malley claimed “he had the right to point his rifle at the deputy because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was occurring, court documents say.

Although Arpaio hasn’t openly supported the movement, his virulent anti-immigrant stands and public statements on the topic seem to some to have given validity to various Minuteman groups.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the agency that manages millions of acres of federally owned land in the West, recently warned its agents of the danger to them and the public from heavily armed militia groups in Arizona’s Vekol Valley, where the confrontation occurred.

The various manifestations of the Arizona Minuteman movement have been riddled with violence, crime, controversy and suspicion.

In May 2009, Washington state resident Shawna Forde, co-founder of the Minutemen American Defense organization, recruited two men to rob and kill a man she thought was a drug dealer. The man’s 9-year-old daughter also was murdered. After Forde’s conviction on two counts of murder, other nativist group leaders, including Minuteman Project President Jim Gilchrist, tried to change their public image.

Last year, neo-Nazi  J.T. Ready, who had become sort of a poster boy for the Minuteman movement, went on a murderous rampage in Gilbert, Ariz., killing four people before taking his own life.

And, in July, Chris Simcox, who founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz., on charges of child molestation.

  • Linnea

    Well, the Minutemen have proved time and again they’re just dumb racists in sheep’s clothing. The fact that this character can’t figure out that a guy in a uniform is a legitimate law enforcement officer says something about how bright he is (i.e., not very). Sheriff Joe has been egging on these clowns, and now his officers are paying the price.

  • juan s

    I wouldn’t blame the Deputy if he had shot this cowboy. If the guy was actually a minuteman it is unlikely he would have pointed his weapon at the officer. All these guys need to let law enforcement know where they are working and their names and contact numbers so they can avoid some of the danger in these types of incidents.
    A new book has come out which tells all about Jim Gilchrist’s activities and shows he was just a scammer trying to bilk the public out of money. It even shows he had paid Shawna Forde money and called her his border commander or some such crap. He should have been looked at as a co-conspirator in the murder of the little girl down there at the border.

  • Sam Molloy

    He would have had the right to point his rifle at the Dep’ty if he had a reason to believe a VIOLENT crime was occurring, to save the victim’s life. But to point a gun at someone at first contact is totally irresponsible. He needs to go back to Yosimete Sam School.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I guess Arpaio is realizing that he opened Pandora’s Box.

    Well, Marc Antony had a great quote about mischief being afoot, and its impact.

  • Brian

    This was not a minuteman he was part of the Duck Commanders led by Daniel Webster of Buckeye, AZ