A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, girls in a Mormon youth group in eastern Idaho spent an evening taping thank-you notes shaped like turkeys on the doors of congregation members, knocking on their doors or ringing their doorbells, and then running away before the residents could see who had left the "thankful turkey." Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland's reaction to the note left for his wife was to get his gun, stop the group's car in the street, drag their adult chaperone out of her vehicle by her hair, and threaten to execute her, according to court papers seen by East Idaho News. The chaperone, Chelsea Cox, told investigators that Rowland held the gun inches from her forehead in the Nov. 9 incident in Blackfoot.
The seven girls who were in the vehicle, all between the ages of 12 and 16, backed up Cox's account, telling investigators said the sheriff held a gun to her head, asked her who she was, and said "I will f---ing shoot you." Cox told investigators that she grew up next door to Rowland and he had been a family friend for more than 30 years, but he did not seem to recognize her, KTVB reports. The sheriff told investigators that he had been "messed up" by the change from daylight savings time a few days earlier. He said that while he had had one drink that evening, his head was "clear as a freaking bell." Doorbell camera footage shows him looking at the turkey note, saying "that's fricking bulls---." After the incident, Rowland told Blackfoot Police Chief Scott Gay that he had "really screwed up," according to court papers.
On Tuesday, the Idaho Attorney General's Office charged Rowland with aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and exhibition of a deadly weapon. The sheriff is due in court Dec. 22. According to court documents, Rowland told investigators he thought somebody was trying to break in. Officials with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have called for the sheriff to resign over other remarks he made to investigators, the Washington Post reports. "I have been doing this job for 36 years," Rowland said. "I have had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac. I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door. I live just off the reservation, we have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people." (Read more Idaho stories.)