PHOENIX (AP) — Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox fought back against allegations that he threatened to kill his family, telling The Associated Press on Friday that his wife made up the allegations as part of a conspiracy to destroy his life.
A judge granted Alena Simcox an order of protection against her husband on April 16 after she described in court documents that he brandished a gun and threatened to shoot her, their children and any police officers who tried to protect them.
Speaking out at length for the first time, Simcox called himself "peaceful, gentle" and said he never threatened anybody. He said his wife made up the allegations about violent threats, and that she is involved with a man Simcox has been feuding with for years.
That man, Stacey O'Connell, denied Simcox's charges and said he and Alena Simcox are friends but not romantically involved.
O'Connell said Alena Simcox would not comment. Her lawyer did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages left after business hours on Friday.
O'Connell was once a leader in Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, which brought thousands of anti-illegal immigration activists to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border and report suspected illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol.
But Simcox kicked him out after O'Connell raised questions about Simcox's management of the organization's finances. The group later collapsed.
O'Connell, a bounty hunter, last month made a public show of his search for Simcox to help police officers serve him with the order of protection. He publicized an Old West-style "wanted" poster describing Simcox as "Armed and Dangerous."
Simcox contends O'Connell has tormented him for three years after vowing to destroy the Minuteman group and Simcox's personal life.
"He and my wife and my mother-in-law have been engaged in some devious, malicious attempts to push me out of this marriage and have caused me a great deal of emotional stress," Simcox said.
Simcox posted on Facebook text messages allegedly sent by O'Connell. The messages taunt Simcox for being away from his children.
"(I) chased you away from your little girls, your lover and what was left of any livelyhood (sic)," one message said.
O'Connell denies that he's been tormenting Simcox. He declined to comment when asked about the authenticity of the text messages.
Simcox is requesting joint custody of the couple's two young girls, ages 2 and 3.