A U.S. Border Patrol agent held a gun to the head of Boy Scout, and an entire Scout troop was held for four hours as the two-dozen Scouts from central Iowa tried to cross into Alaska from Canada, about 10 days into a three-week trip, a troop leader says. Now, the Border Patrol is investigating the incident and even a U.S. Senator has become involved.
The altercation started when Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111, traveling in four vans, stopped routinely at the border between Canada and Alaska. At some point during the routine border stop, according to troop leader Jim Fox, one of the Boy Scouts snapped a picture of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
According to Fox, the Border Patrol agent took away the kid's camera, telling him it was a federal offense to photograph a Border Patrol agent. The agent then threatened the Scout with arrest — along with 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, Fox told Des Moines TV station KCCI.
Fox said he did not protest, wanting avoid any further trouble. But the Border Patrol agents, apparently, were itching for a showdown with the Boy Scouts. When one Scout reached for a piece of luggage which the Border Patrol demanded to search, trouble did ensue, Fox said.
"He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here's this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man's head," Fox told the TV station.
When United States Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, heard about the incident, he was shocked.
"It's just outrageous that a border patrol agent would point a gun at a Boy Scout just for taking a picture. It just doesn't make sense," said Grassley, who promised to take the complaint to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Grassley said he first heard about the alleged gun-pointing incident about two weeks ago. The Scouts only recently returned from the lengthy trip.
But the Border Patrol now says that it looked into the incident, and concluded that no agent ever pulled a gun on the Boy Scouts.
"Our officer did not un-holster or handle his weapon as stated in the allegation. The review revealed nothing out of the ordinary," the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement. "We have reached out to the Boy Scout troop for additional information in reference to the allegation."
The American Civil Liberties Union says that banning photography of Border Patrol agents is unconstitutional, and a Des Moines criminal defense lawyer, Angela Campbell, told KCCO that the Border Patrol agent's alleged statements about the offense carrying a 10-year sentence and $10,000 fine were not correct.