A western Santa Cruz County rancher was arrested last week after a pair of alleged incidents in which authorities say he pointed a gun at two civilians and later fired a weapon at sheriff’s deputies.
Lowell Robinson, 53, who operates the Tres Bellotas ranch – a sprawling cattle ranch in the county’s southwestern corner that includes several miles bordering Mexico – was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping at Nogales Justice Court.
Robinson’s lawyer, Phoenix-based defense attorney Cary Lackey, said Robinson will fight the charges.
“We categorically deny the state’s allegations in both matters,” he said.
“We’re confident that when we get this in front of a fair-minded jury, that the state’s not going to be able to carry their burden of proof in this matter,” Lackey added.
The matter began in the late afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 8.
A man and a woman in their late 50s were driving in the area of Tres Bellotas and, according to the Sheriff’s Office, might have accidentally gone onto Robinson’s private property.
They told deputies that someone – suspected to be Robinson – followed their vehicle, then cut them off and pointed a gun at them. The pair said they were returning from a trip “sightseeing the border,” Gonzales said.
After the incident, the alleged victims ran into a U.S. Border Patrol agent and told the story. That agent called the Sheriff’s Office. Call logs show the Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Border Patrol at 6:51 p.m.
Border Patrol agents and sheriff’s deputies then gathered at a gas station in Arivaca and prepared to head to the ranch.
The ranch lies about 14 miles down a rough-hewn dirt road south of the town, impassible without an off-road vehicle. Gonzales said the officers and agents arrived at the residence around 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.
Robinson reportedly stepped out the side door and fired a single round at a deputy, then returned inside, Gonzales said. He then walked out the front door unarmed and was arrested. Gonzales added that nobody was hit by the shot and he believed it was fired from a .40-caliber handgun.
Robinson was eventually booked into Santa Cruz County jail and held with bond set at $500,000.
Asked why someone would fire a single shot, only to later present themselves, unarmed, for arrest, Gonzales said: “It’s hard to say what he was thinking.”
Robinson and the Border Patrol have had a rocky relationship for years. He said last year that agents patrolling in the area routinely leave livestock fences open and he’s had to help tow Border Patrol vehicles that get stuck in the steep roads around the ranch.
Last November, tensions boiled over when an employee at the ranch discovered a Border Patrol surveillance camera near Robinson’s house. He later told the NI that it was on his private property and pointed at the residence. He took the camera and, for nearly two weeks, refused to give it back to the feds.