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Immigration Activist Shoots Up Woman's Garage

Anti-immigration activist and American Patrol leader Glenn Spencer was arrested in August 2003 for shooting at a neighbor's garage after he claimed his home — also group headquarters — had been burglarized.

"We're not kooks," Glenn Spencer assured Southeast Arizona residents last fall after he moved the headquarters of his anti-immigration hate group, American Patrol, from Southern California to the troubled Arizona border county of Cochise.

But in early August, Spencer became the third anti-immigration activist on the border to land in legal trouble this year.

After a neighbor reported hearing two shots fired and a weapon cocked outside her home, local officers drove out and found that bullets had been fired into the woman's garage door. Spencer, claiming that he opened fire after hearing suspicious noises outside, was arrested on three felony counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon, one felony count of endangerment and one count of misdemeanor criminal damage. A few days earlier, following a series of death threats against Spencer, his home headquarters had been burglarized, Spencer claimed.

Though it's been highly controversial in Cochise County, American Border Patrol, the spinoff group Spencer founded, continues its work of "lighting up" the border, videotaping illegal immigrants and broadcasting the images of what Spencer has called a "Mexican invasion" over its Web site.

Meanwhile, Jack Foote, a Texan who leads the paramilitary outfit Ranch Rescue, is battling a lawsuit filed by six migrants who say members of Foote's group held them at gunpoint and beat one of them with the butt-end of a gun. "These two trespassers were treated with the utmost of kindness and respect," Foote has insisted.

Chris Simcox, the rabble-rousing newspaper publisher who organized the Civil Homeland Defense militia last fall in Arizona, pleaded not guilty on Aug. 21 to three misdemeanor weapons charges. Simcox, whose trial date has not been set, was nabbed while carrying a firearm on National Park Service land, and he also is charged with lying to a ranger about the gun.

Simcox, who issues calls to arms in his tiny local paper, the Tombstone Tumbleweed, said he had innocently stumbled into an area of the park that was not marked as federal land.