ST. GEORGE — An Arizona man was arrested on 15 felony charges over the weekend after allegedly shooting at four kayakers as they paddled past his property and then holding three of them at gunpoint.
A group of four friends from Flagstaff, Arizona, told officials they were kayaking down Burro Creek and were about a mile downstream from the Burro Creek Campground when they heard a gunshot and saw an elderly man standing on the riverbank with a “large silver gun,” Mohave County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Trish Carter said in a statement.
The kayakers reported that the man, later identified as 66-year-old Danny Button, fired four more rounds. One round hit the water near the lead kayaker, who subsequently began paddling “extremely fast” and got away, Carter said, as Button ordered the remaining three kayakers out of the water at gunpoint.
The kayakers reportedly pleaded with Button to let them go to look for their friend as they feared he may be injured, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Button told them they were on his property and later ordered them to grab their boats and walk back to the campground.
Deputies responded to the area at approximately 3:32 p.m. Saturday and found two of the kayakers at the Burro Creek Campground. They found a third kayaker at a landing waiting for the fourth, who hadn’t returned.
Search and Rescue crews responded and initiated a search for the missing 47-year-old kayaker, who was subsequently found 19 hours later about 7 miles south of Burro Creek Campgrounds, the sheriff’s office said, noting that the man was in good health.
The man reported hearing a couple gunshots before realizing he was the target, deputies said, which prompted him to roll his kayak upside down in the water as shots were fired.
“The (alleged) victim said that he stayed upside down as long as possible before he rolled back up and heard a male subject say, ‘This one is not going to miss,’” Carter said. “The (alleged) victim further said that he paddled as fast as he could to escape.”
The man reportedly continued on to the group’s planned destination but said he didn’t make it before darkness, so he ended up camping and hiding out, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities located Button on his property at approximately 10:45 p.m. Saturday and arrested him shortly thereafter, Carter said, adding that his .45-caliber Ruger revolver was taken as evidence.
Button told deputies he was target shooting on his property and then said the kayakers were trespassing, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Button was booked into the Mohave County Jail Saturday on three felony counts of unlawful imprisonment, three felony counts of kidnapping, three felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and three felony counts of endangerment.
After the fourth kayaker was found Sunday, Button was charged with three additional felony counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon, endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Deputies confirmed that property owners do not have the rights to the waterways.
Approximately 30 Search and Rescue members, the Department of Public Safety Kingman Ranger and DPS Flagstaff Ranger assisted in the search for the missing kayaker.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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