Border Patrol agent shoots dog; owner arrested
By Jonathan Clark
BISBEE — A Bisbee Junction man is facing federal charges after he allegedly tackled a Border Patrol agent who had just shot his dog.
Gil Nelson, 47, made an initial appearance Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Tucson on charges that he interfered with Border Patrol Agent Jeremy Poser while Poser was performing his official duties, and that he inflicted bodily injury on Poser by fighting with him and spraining his left little finger.
According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Poser, an agent posted to the Border Patrol’s Naco station, was responding Tuesday afternoon to an activated sensor in a wash near the end of Box Turtle Lane when two dogs ran toward him.
“Poser started to walk backwards but the dogs kept running towards (him),” the complaint says. “Poser felt threatened and shot one of the dogs with his service weapon.”
The injured dog, which turned out to be Nelson’s 16-month-old mixed-breed, Yogi, ran toward Nelson’s home. A short time later, the complaint says, Nelson came running out of the house toward Poser, yelling.
Nelson allegedly jumped on Poser and put the agent in a headlock while pulling back on his finger. Poser then pepper sprayed Nelson, who let go of the agent before grabbing Poser’s hat and sunglasses and running back inside the house.
After additional Border Patrol agents arrived at the scene, Nelson came back out of the house and was arrested.
Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, said Nelson remains in custody pending a detention hearing Friday.
Nelson’s friend, Debbie Norman, told the Herald/Review that she was visiting Nelson at his home on Tuesday when the incident occurred.
“We had just come in the house when, all of a sudden, it sounded like someone had fired a cannon,” Norman said. “The windows rattled and we heard the dog scream.”
After bringing the dog inside, Norman said, Nelson ran out of the house while she and another woman followed.
When she got outside, Norman saw a Border Patrol agent running down a wash with Nelson behind him.
“When Mr. Nelson screamed at him, the guy turned around and Mr. Nelson knocked the gun out of the guy’s hand,” Norman said.
“Then the guy Maced Mr. Nelson, who fell on the ground, and the guy got on his radio and said he had just been attacked by three citizens. The man lied from the very beginning.”
Norman said she saw blood evidence suggesting that the dog was shot less than a foot away from Nelson’s house, not in the wash, approximately 15 feet away.
And she said the path of the bullet, which entered from behind Yogi’s right front leg, exited near his shoulder and struck him in the chin, showed the dog was shot while running away from Poser, not at him.
“The windows of the house were open,” Norman said. “The dog never barked and never growled. This is not an attack animal.”
Garrel Geiger, the veterinarian who treated Yogi, did not return messages requesting verification of Norman’s description of the wounds.
Norman said that prior to the incident with Poser, Nelson had confronted another Border Patrol agent who had come into his yard earlier in the day Tuesday, and that he then called the Naco Border Patrol station to say he didn’t want agents coming near his house.
“Now Mr. Nelson is in jail, and I feel that it’s a case of retaliation and harassment,” Norman said. “I feel like they set him up.”
Jesus “Chuy” Rodriguez, spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, said his agency was still investigating the incident, and so he could not comment on the specifics of the case.
But he said there are no firm rules prohibiting agents from firing their guns near private homes, and he said agents are authorized to use firearms against domestic animals if necessary.
“If an agent feels that his or her life is threatened, he or she is authorized to take the appropriate action,” Rodriguez said.
According to court documents, Poser was taken to the Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee following the incident and treated for his sprained finger.
Yogi was treated at the Coronado Veterinary Clinic in Sierra Vista and is now recovering at home.
A deputy from the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office also responded to Tuesday’s incident, but sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas said her office is not currently investigating the case.
Herald/Review reporter Jonathan Clark can be reached at 515-4693 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS IS INTOLERABLE!
FREE GIL NELSON! ARREST POSER!