One Minuteman leader accused a rival Minuteman leader of videotaping the shooting of an illegal immigrant, but sheriff's deputies investigating the report Saturday said the video was fake, as did the maker of the video.
Robert "Little Dog" Crooks said he and his friends did shoot the video and sheriff's deputies came out to see what happened, but they know him well.
"Who in their right mind is going to shoot a smuggler, videotape it, then post it to YouTube?" Crooks said.
The video came to the attention of authorities after Jeff Schwilk, founder of the San Diego Minutemen, who Crooks said is his rival, e-mailed another border activist, warning about the Crooks video, according to a local newspaper.
The video, which is shot from the perspective of a gun scope, was probably staged, said Sgt. Mike Radovich of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department Campo station.
The video shows Minutemen targeting an illegal immigrant crossing the border. There's the sound of a gunshot, the immigrant ducks or is shot, and then the video fades out to a grave site, Radovich said.
Crooks gave a similar description of his video. He said he and his friends made the video when the Minutemen were bored discussing President George W. Bush's federal immigration reform bill, which the group calls the Amnesty Bill, and which was eventually turned down by Congress.
"The Amnesty Bill was up in the air, and we said if it goes through it'd bury America," Crooks said. "So we buried America."
The group constructed the fake grave site next to Crooks' trailer, which is near the border fence in Campo, he said. Radovich said he saw the fake grave site during his investigation of the video.
"We're old men and we're bored," Crooks said.
An agent with the Border Patrol said the group may have been effective at preventing some immigrants from illegally crossing the border near his trailer, but that "they walk right by Crooks now."
"I take his videos on YouTube with a grain of salt," said the border agent.
Meantime, Schwilk's Minutemen group also was investigated for a video that allegedly showed him and others trampling through migrant camps, according to a local newspaper.
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