AR-News: (US-AZ) Rancher faces fed charges in shooting of copter
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 3 23:31:22 EDT 2003
Rancher faces fed charges in shooting of copter bucket
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 3, 2003 12:00 AM
A Tonto Basin rancher who used a shotgun to defend his water supply from a
firefighting helicopter last month now faces criminal charges.
Federal prosecutors say Clarence Conway, 59, blasted a collection bucket
beneath the chopper as it hovered over his stock pond dipping for water to
battle the "Picture" fire near Punkin Center.
Conway was arrested shortly after the June 30 incident, then released. He
was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on a single count of
interfering with the performance of federal officials or contractors. If
convicted, he could face up to a year in prison.
The U.S. District Court case is likely to pit the water rights of a property
owner against the needs of federal authorities during an emergency.
Clark Derrick, a Phoenix attorney assisting Conway's family, said the
rancher had filed a claim with the U.S. Forest Service after firefighting
aircraft used more than $2,000 worth of his water to battle a blaze last
year. Derrick said the government never paid that claim, and Conway warned
the Forest Service not to take more water from Greenback Ranch because he
was concerned about the welfare of his cattle.
Michael Johns, an assistant U.S. attorney, said two shots were fired and
investigators later found pellets embedded in the water-collection bucket.
He noted that the helicopter was not hit. Conway was not charged with any
The Picture fire, which began around June 20, burned more than 12,500 acres
of Tonto National Forest before it was contained 10 days later.
Reach the reporter at dennis.wagner at arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8874.
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a
justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we
should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has
also been done since the earliest of times.
Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer
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