Update: Men with AK-47s targeted Arizona rancher charged in alleged shooting of illegal alien

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News February 13, 2023

A group of armed men pointed an AK-47 at the Arizona rancher who has been charged with murder and held on $1 million bond in connection to the shooting of a man believed to be a Mexican national on the rancher’s border property.

George Alan Kelly fired “warning shots” after 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,” Kelly’s court-appointed lawyer, Brenna Larkin wrote in a court filing.

George Alan Kelly

“None of them were known to him. He had not given any of them permission to come onto his land.”

Kelly, 73, has been 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.

Related: Arizona rancher who killed illegal on his property charged with 1st degree murder, held on $1 million bail, February 9, 2023

Kelly 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.

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 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.”

Later in the day on Jan. 30, Kelly said he went to his pastures to check on his horse, still concerned the horse might have been injured in the incident. Noticing that the dogs he took with him were focused on something on the ground near a mesquite tree, Kelly approached the area and “observed a body lying face down in the grass,” Larkin wrote. He then called the Border Patrol ranch liaison to report the discovery and request assistance from law enforcement.

When law enforcement arrived, Kelly helped them find the body and cooperated with their investigation, according to Larkin. The investigation found that the body was that of a male “foreign national.” The cause of death appeared to be a single gunshot wound, and it appeared the body was fresh, according to the filing.

“The person [had] a radio with him, and he was wearing tactical boots, indicating he was possibly involved in illegal activity,” Larkin wrote.

The defense attorney added that it remains unknown what kind of bullet caused the fatal wound, what was the time of death, how long the body had been there or where and what position the person was in prior to receiving the fatal wounds.

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 Kelly did on that date of the incident was in self-defense and justified.”

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