Arizona Rancher Accused of Murder Says He Only Fired 'Warning Shots' After Armed Trespassers 'Pointed An AK-47 Right At Him'

Chris Menahan
Feb. 12, 2023

George Alan Kelly, the 73-year-old Arizona rancher accused of murder for allegedly shooting a Mexican national on his property with a long history of deportations, says he only fired "warning shots" after a group of trespassers "pointed an AK-47 right at him," Fox News reports.

From Arizona rancher held on $1M bond fired 'warning shots,' armed men pointed 'AK-47 right at him,' defense claims:
George Alan Kelly, 73, who is charged with first-degree, premeditated murder in the Jan. 30 shooting of a man whom authorities believe to be 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, based on the Mexican voter registration card he carried, had completed chores on his ranch near Kino Springs earlier that day and came to his house to have lunch with his wife when he heard a single gunshot as they ate, Kelly’s court-appointed attorney, Brenna Larkin, wrote in a recent court filing obtained by Fox News Digital.

Kelly saw his horse, who is old, running away scared at full speed, the filing says.

"Finally, he saw a group of men moving through the trees around his home. They were armed with AK-47 rifles, dressed in khakis and camouflaged clothing and carrying large backpacks," Larkin wrote. "None of them were known to him. He had not given any of them permission to come onto his land."

Because he was "understandably concerned and reasonably feared for his safety, his wife’s safety, and his animals’ safety," Kelly called the U.S. Border Patrol ranch liaison, specifically assigned to aid people living on borderlands, to report what he had seen and "to summon immediate help," Larkin wrote.

Telling his wife to stay inside, silent and away from windows, Kelly went onto his porch with his rifle.

"The leader of the armed group of men saw Mr. Kelly and pointed an AK-47 right at him," Larkin wrote. "Mr. Kelly, fearing for his life and safety, fired several shots from his rifle, hoping to scare them away from him, his wife, his animals, and his home. As he shot, Mr. Kelly took care to aim well over the heads of the armed group of men. The group then began running into the desert surrounding his home. Once the group had fled, Mr. Kelly walked over to his barn to see if it was safe and secure."

The filing notes Kelly had a second conversation with the Border Patrol ranch liaison that ended at approximately 2:36 p.m. Even though Kelly reported that he heard a single shot and that the men he had seen were armed, the liaison "incorrectly reported" that Kelly stated he could not tell whether the men were armed or not, Larkin wrote. The radio dispatch to the Border Patrol agents en route to the property at approximately 2:40 p.m. "correctly reported that armed men had been seen in the area."

While Kelly was checking his barn, a number of Border Patrol and Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the property and encountered Kelly, who indicated to them that he had seen a group of armed men near his house, the filing says. Deputies also made contact with Kelly’s wife, who indicated that she had seen armed men carrying large backpacks near the house, Larkin wrote.

[...] In an interview with law enforcement, Kelly "admitted to firing warning shots at the smugglers earlier in the day, but he denied firing any shot directly at any person," Larkin wrote. "He does not believe that any of his warning shots could have possibly hit the person or caused the death. All of the shooting that Mr. Kelly did on that date of the incident was in self-defense and justified."
It should go without saying but Kelly should not have talked to police.

Justice of the Peace Emilio G. Velasquez, who ordered Kelly be held on a $1 million bond, is allegedly a left-wing hack.

Though GoFundMe shut down a crowd funding campaign for Kelly's legal defense, another campaign on GiveSendGo successfully raised over $270,000 to help Kelly get a solid legal defense.

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