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Sheriff's Deputies, Minuteman Clash In Arizona Desert

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Sheriff's Deputies, Minuteman Clash In Arizona Desert

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is warning civilians who patrol the Arizona desert looking for drug smugglers and migrants they could wind up being shot by his deputies.

Arpaio told the Associated Press, "If they continue this there could be some dead militia out there."

His comments come after the Saturday night arrest of Richard Malley, a member of a Minuteman group. 

Malley and two other men were patrolling along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend, a known smuggling area. Malley presumably mistook a sheriff's deputy for a drug smuggler, and pointed his semi-automatic rifle at him.

MCSO deputies arrested him that night for aggravated assault. At the time of his arrest he was also armed with a .45 caliber pistol and a fixed-blade knife, according to court documents. He was released on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 26.

The Associated Press quotes Arpaio saying:

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

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.