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Idaho Sheriff Is Accused of Pointing Gun at Woman Who Delivered a Thank-You Card

When Chelsea Cox dropped off a card at the sheriff’s house, she did not expect to have a gun pointed at her forehead.

She had driven some girls from her church to his house in Blackfoot, Idaho, on the evening of Nov. 9. They taped a “thankful turkey” card to the door and sprinted back to the car, according to an affidavit filed this month by the Idaho attorney general’s office. The delivery was supposed to be a nice surprise.

But the sheriff, Craig Rowland of Bingham County, Idaho, saw them and thought that they were casing the neighborhood, according to the affidavit.

He brought his service gun outside and waved at the car to stop driving. Ms. Cox, a family friend, stopped the car and opened the door.

“We are just here to drop something off for Lisa,” she said, referring to the sheriff’s wife, according to the affidavit.

The sheriff yanked Ms. Cox out of the car by her hair, according to the affidavit.

As Ms. Cox explained who she was, Sheriff Rowland held the gun two inches from her forehead. “I will shoot you,” he said, using an expletive, according to the affidavit.

“Get out of here,” he added.

Sheriff Craig Rowland of Bingham County, Idaho.Credit…Bingham County Sheriff’s Office

The next morning, he told Chief Scott Gay of the Blackfoot Police Department that he “had really screwed up,” according to the affidavit. The police chief reported the confrontation to the state authorities.

But the confrontation would not draw attention for another month, with the filing of the affidavit, which was reported earlier by the Post Register in Idaho. Sheriff Rowland was charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.

It was unclear what penalty the sheriff would face if convicted. The Idaho attorney general’s office did not respond to phone calls on Sunday. The sheriff appeared in court last week.

The sheriff and his lawyer, Justin B. Oleson, did not respond to phone calls on Sunday.

A number of local officials have called on Sheriff Rowland to resign because of the confrontation and some comments he made afterward.

In an interview with state investigators, he made disparaging comments about Native Americans from a nearby reservation, the affidavit said.

“I’ve had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac. I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door,” he said in an interview with state investigators, according to the affidavit. “We have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.”

Blackfoot, which is about 200 miles east of Boise, is near the Fort Hall Reservation, where the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes live. The tribes said in a statement this month that the confrontation did not involve its members.

Devon Boyer, the chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council, the tribes’ governing body, called on the sheriff to resign. Mr. Boyer said in the statement that the sheriff’s actions proved “racism still exists.”

“Rowland’s use of racial slurs about ‘Indians’ is extremely offensive,” he added.

In separate statements, the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, a police organization, and Marc Carroll, the mayor of Blackfoot, both called on Sheriff Rowland, who has held the position since 2012, to step down.

“We find Sheriff Rowland’s comments to be repulsive,” Mr. Carroll said.

Sheriff Rowland’s colleagues in the sheriff’s office did not denounce his actions in a statement last week, but they said they valued their relationship with the nearby tribes.

Ms. Cox did not respond to phone calls on Sunday, but she told state investigators that she “really got scared” when it became clear that Sheriff Rowland did not recognize her.

Ms. Cox lived down the road from him and he kept a trailer on her property, according to the affidavit.

That is likely why she did not think there would be any problems when she dropped off a “thankful turkey” at his house.

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