Arizona rancher charged with murder after allegedly killing suspected Mexican illegal on his property

The incident took place January 30 on Kelly's ranch, which is situated just 1.5 miles from the border in Kino Springs, AZ.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly, 73, has been charged with first-degree murder after allegedly shooting 48-year-old Mexican citizen Gabriel Cuen-Butimea. 

The incident took place on January 30 on Kelly's ranch, which is situated just 1.5 miles from the border in Kino Springs.

According to Newsweek, at around 2:40 pm on January 30, US Border Patrol alerted the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department of a "possible active shooter" near Sagebrush Road, with reports of a "group of people running" and a man who identified himself as "Allen" saying he was "unsure if he was getting shot at as well."

Officers responded to the scene, but found nothing, however just three hours later another report came in, this time with claims that shots had been fired at the same location.

It was then that officers located a body about 100 yards from Kelly's home with one gunshot wound, later identified via documents in his pockets as Cuen-Butimea. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are still investigating the circumstances behind the shooting.

A Mexican voter registration card was found with Cuen-Butimea, however, authorities have been unable to confirm whether he was in the United States unlawfully. According to the Daily Mail, he had a history of crossing the border illegally, and was deported many times. The latest documented instance took place in 2016.

Kelly was promptly arrested and taken to the Santa Cruz County Jail, where he is currently being held on $1 million bail. He pleaded with the judge to reduce the amount, saying, "I'm not going anywhere. I can't come up with a million dollars." Kelly also pointed out that his wife was all alone at home with "nobody to take care of her, the livestock or the ranch." 

Arizona has "stand your ground" laws, which allow citizens to use force to protect themselves from potential attackers on their property.

No motive has been determined, nor have authorities found any indication that the two men knew each other. 

Aside from being a rancher, Kelly was also a part-time writer, with his stories focusing on life in the border region. In one tale, characters named after him and his family "patrol the ranch daily, armed with AK-47s."

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