Idaho Sheriff Faces Mounting Calls to Resign After Pulling Gun on Church Youth Group

An Idaho county sheriff is facing increasing calls to resign after being charged last week with several charges in relation to an incident where he allegedly threatened members of a church youth group and their adult leader with his service handgun.

Seven young girls aged 12 to 16, along with an adult supervising them, who were part of a youth group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were placing turkey-shaped notes on doors on November 9 thanking members of the church's congregation.

When they arrived at Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland's home, they say they put the note on the door, rang the doorbell and ran back to their car. Rowland allegedly followed them, pulled the adult supervisor out of the car by her hair, pointed his gun at the group and yelled profanities at them, according to court documents of police interviews with the girls and Rowland.

Rowland was charged last week with aggravated assault and battery and a misdemeanor charge of exhibition of a gun. He has not entered a plea on the charges as of yet.

After taking a leave of absence while the incident was investigated, Rowland has since returned to work and is facing calls from several groups and officials saying he should resign.

Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers and Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll released statements Friday saying Rowland should resign, joining previous requests for resignation from local Native American tribes and Devon Boyer, Chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council.

"A trusted Law Enforcement officer has admitted to physically assaulting a neighbor and threatening her with his service handgun," Carroll wrote.

Rowland cited the reason for his actions as fear over people coming to his home following threats he has allegedly received in recent months.

Rogers wrote that at "some point the damage to the Sheriff's Office becomes irreparable regardless of the outcome of the newly-filed case."

Idaho, Sheriff, Church Youth Group
Several young girls with the church allege that an Idaho county sheriff, who is now facing calls to resign over the incident, threatened them with a gun after they left a thank-you note from the church on his door on November 9, 2021. Above, a view of the San Diego California Temple is seen on August 08, 2020, in La Jolla, California. RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

"I have been doing this job for 36 years," Rowland said in a statement in which he also disparaged the people on the nearby Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' Fort Hall Reservation, referencing intoxication and calling them "not good people" and saying their proximity was the reason for his actions.

The tribes have also called on Rowland to resign, calling his statements racist.

"We ask Rowland to officially step down as Sheriff and offer a public apology to the Fort Hall community," Boyer said in the statement last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Many are asking a Sheriff to step down after he's accused of yelling and pointing his service weapon at a group of Latter-Day Saint children and their adult supervisor after placing a turkey-shaped note on his door as they had done many others in the neighborhood. Above, a man holds his Glock 9 mm pistol at the Maryland Small Arms Range in Upper Marlboro Maryland. Yuri Gripas/Reuters