There’s a Devil Loose: Idaho Sheriff Accused of Holding Gun to Woman’s Head as Church Youth Group Delivered Thanksgiving ‘Thank You’ Note at His Home

Sheriff Craig Rowland, right, was charged with aggravated battery and assault after he allegedly pointed his gun at members of a youth group outside his home in Blackfoot, Idaho. (KTVB)

Members of a church youth group giggled as they taped a Thanksgiving decoration to Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland’s door in Blackfoot, Idaho, and ran back to their friends in a nearby vehicle. The paper turkey with “thank you!” written in black letters was supposed to be a surprise for the sheriff’s wife.

But as the group’s adult chaperone, Chelsea Cox, began to drive away on Nov. 9, Rowland — wearing long johns and holding a gun — appeared in the middle of the street, the girls later told investigators. At first, they said, they thought he was joking. Then, after the car rolled to a stop, Rowland allegedly approached the vehicle and pointed the gun at two girls in the front seat before turning the weapon toward Cox, according to a 10-page affidavit.

On Tuesday, Rowland was charged with aggravated battery and aggravated assault — both felonies — and exhibition or use of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor.

“Get the f— out of the car,” the sheriff told Cox, according to the affidavit, before grabbing the woman by her hair and yanking her out of the vehicle.

A 12-year-old girl told investigators she then saw the sheriff hold the gun to Cox’s head — close enough to be touching — and say “I will f—ing shoot you,” according to the affidavit. Cox, investigators wrote, is Rowland’s neighbor.

The sheriff eventually told the group to leave, and no one appeared to be seriously injured. Five weeks later, the Idaho attorney general’s office formally charged Rowland, 62, who is due in court Wednesday, according to state records.

Neither Rowland nor his attorney immediately responded to requests for comment late Thursday. Rowland, a Republican who has been sheriff since 2012, took a leave of absence during the investigation but returned to work once it was completed, Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Rogers told East Idaho News.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Julian Mark

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