Note: The following story contains graphic language.
Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.
Rowland is being charged after an incident that took place on November 9 with youth and an adult leader from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The group was out delivering “thankful turkeys,” which they would tape to the doors, ring the doorbell, and then run away, so the individual who received the turkey didn’t know who had delivered it.
The group made the turkeys to tell certain people why they were thankful for them.
Investigators said in the affidavit that the girls had gone to Rowland’s house once to drop off the turkey but said they saw Rowland and would have been seen. After delivering a turkey to another residence, the girls went back to Rowland’s home to try and deliver the turkey again.
After the girls had dropped off the turkey at Rowland’s house and returned to the vehicle, they were driving past the house when Rowland waved them down to stop.
According to an affidavit from the Attorney General’s office, who is charging Rowland with the crimes, when the vehicle driver, Chelsea Cox, stopped, she opened the door slightly so the light would come on in the vehicle because the window wasn’t functional.
Cox told Rowland that they were dropping off something for Lisa, Rowland’s wife.
That’s when, according to the affidavit, Rowland pointed his gun at Cox, pointed it at several youths in the front seat, back at the Cox again, and told her to “get the fuck out of the car.”
Cox tried to explain to Rowland why they were there, but Rowland kept yelling at her and eventually grabbed her by the hair and pulled her out of the car. Cox told investigators that it did not appear Rowland recognized her, and that’s when she felt scared because the gun was pointed at her forehead.
According to Cox’s husband, who the AG’s investigator also interviewed, the Cox family and Rowlands have known each other for 30 years. In addition, the Rowlands keep their trailer on the Cox’s property.
Eventually, Rowland tells Cox to leave and “get the fuck out of here.”
Investigators from the AG’s office also interviewed Rowland about the incident that night.
Around 8:00 p.m., the second time the group had come to the home, Rowland said he went to the dog out and saw several people running down the road. He checked his county vehicle to ensure it had not been damaged, which it had not.
When Rowland heard someone knock on his door, he said he believed someone might be breaking into their home and asked his wife to retrieve his firearm.
Rowland said he turned the porch light on, went outside, saw several people running down the street, and eventually saw the vehicle turning around to come back down the street. Rowland said he thought maybe the individuals were casing his house and that they had received several death threats in recent months.
Rowland also told investigators that he had had a lot of “drunk Indians” that have come down their culdesac, to their door, and that there are many “reservation people” who are not good people that they have arrested for committing crimes.
Investigators reviewed footage from Rowland’s security cameras. They described one of the videos showing Rowland coming out of his home and looking at the turkey taped to the front of his door. Rowland can then allegedly be heard saying, “get my gun,” after closing the screen door.
In the final video, which is after the incident at the Cox’s vehicle, Rowland can be heard saying that it was “Chelsea.”
The following evening a conversation took place between Blackfoot Police Chief Scott Gay and Rowland which is described in the affidavit. Rowland told Gay that he had “really screwed up.”
Rowland told Cox that he had had a drink but was not drunk.
Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll, the Blackfoot Police Department, and the Snake River Fraternal Order of Police have asked Rowland to resign. In addition, the Shoshone-Bannock tribe has also called on Rowland to resign.
Rowland took a leave of absence for several weeks but has since resumed duties. Rowland has been a law enforcement officer for 36 years.
Idaho Dispatch will keep you informed about any updates to this story.
Tags: Attorney General, Blackfoot, Chelsea Cox, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Marc Carroll, Paul Rogers, Scott Gay, Sheriff Craig Rowland, Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, Snake River Fraternal Order of Police