Stephen Lemons of Feathered Bastard, provides more details on the recent desert shootings, including information on neo-Nazis who are “patrolling” Pinal County. This is the county where two men were murdered by unknown assailants the day after the anti-immigrant rally in Phoenix.
I called Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada Thursday about a report I’d read on the Website of NBC affiliate KVOA Tucson concerning four border crossers fired upon by two men wearing camouflage and bearing assault rifles.
One man was injured with a gunshot wound to the left forearm, the rest were unharmed. The shooting occurred around 5 a.m. on Friday, June 11 at Peck Canyon, nearby Rio Rico. Sheriff Estrada suggested in the KVOA report that the shooters could have been U.S. citizens “hunting illegal border crossers.”
What the piece didn’t explain is whether the victims of the attack had been able to identify the perps as Anglo or Hispanic. But Sheriff Estrada told me that the migrants couldn’t say.
“These guys scattered,” Estrada stated of the group. “They didn’t hang around long enough to figure out who [the suspects] were.”
The border crossers began as a group of seven. After they were shot at and had dispersed, a group of four, including the wounded man, sought help, and were ultimately taken into the custody of the Border Patrol.
When interviewed, according to Estrada, they denied that they had been carrying drugs. They said the two men who shot at them never demanded anything. They just started firing.
Estrada suggested that it might have been a rip-off — with either Mexican or American bandits involved, seeking to poach drugs.
“They wouldn’t admit they were carrying drugs,” said Estrada. “But there’s a strong possibility that’s what it was, a rip-off. If it wasn’t a rip-off, and they were just shooting at them, we’ve got a whole different ball game here.”
Estrada said that at this time he has no leads in the case. I mentioned the fact that armed neo-Nazis were patrolling Pinal County’s Vekol Valley, and asked him if that was at all worrisome. He spoke generally of the various volunteer groups that seek to patrol the desert themselves.
“That is a concern,” answered Estrada. “These people are obviously not trained in this sort of work — law enforcement. They would be very vulnerable to some of these groups and individuals that really take this very seriously and can be very violent when they have to be. These people could be caught in the crossfire.”
When I spoke to Mesa neo-Nazi J.T. Ready the other day about his announced “border ops” this weekend in Pinal County, I asked him if he’d been patrolling Rio Rico recently. He told me that he could “neither confirm or deny” that he had been.
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