GILA BEND, Ariz. – A member of a Minuteman militia group was arrested Saturday night after he allegedly pointed a rifle at a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy.
According to court documents, Richard Malley, 49, thought the deputy was a drug smuggler.
Malley and two other group members were out looking for illegal activity in the desert area along Interstate 8 near Gila Bend when two deputies checking areas frequently used in drug trafficking approached, according to the paperwork.
The deputies flashed their headlights, honked the horn and used flashlights to check under trees and in the bushes before exiting their vehicle. They then began to search the area on foot.
Malley pointed a rifle at one of the deputies and aimed a flashlight at his face, according to the documents. The deputy identified himself, but Malley did not put down his weapon. Malley also had a pistol and a fixed blade knife with him.
Malley identified himself as a militia Minuteman and told the deputy that he did not carry any form of identification because he feared cartel members would find out his identity.
The deputy showed Malley his badge, the patches on his sleeves and the word "Sheriff" across his chest then told him to surrender his firearms.
Malley refused, saying, "You aren't taking my weapons."
The deputy said he wanted to wait for additional units to arrive on scene before taking anyone's firearms.
Malley was taken into custody after more deputies responded to the scene.
Malley said he was in fear for his life because he was in the middle of the desert and felt that the deputy was a drug smuggler working for a cartel. According to the court documents, Malley said he felt he had the right to point his rifle because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was occurring.
Both deputies were wearing identifiable MCSO uniforms, according to the documents.
Malley was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail for aggravated assault. His bond was set at $10,000.