Hiker wants Ariz. park ranger fired over search

2013-05-20T00:00:00Z 2013-05-20T08:00:26Z Hiker wants Ariz. park ranger fired over searchPerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

An Oregon man is calling for the firing of a park ranger at Fort Bowie National Historic Site for what he calls an illegal search.

Bryan Barrow, 50, was hiking in the Southeast Arizona park on March 22 when he said he saw someone with his hands cupped against the driver's-side window of his car.

After he asked what the man was doing, the man identified himself as a park ranger and asked Barrow for identification, car insurance and registration.

Barrow said he gave the ranger his identification and looked for the other documents for about 15 minutes but was unable to find them.

Barrow was frisked by two other rangers who arrived at the scene and was held for more than three hours while Park Ranger John Gulas and a Border Patrol agent with a dog searched his vehicle for drugs.

The national historic site is about 80 miles east of Tucson.

Barrow was given two citations - for lack of proof of insurance and lack of registration. He has a court hearing in Tucson June 5.

Lane Baker, superintendent of the National Park Service's Southeast Arizona units, said the agency takes complaints very seriously, and the case is under an investigation. She hopes to conclude it in a couple of weeks.

"The ranger was investigating what he thought might have been a drug crime," she said

Barrow also contacted Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who sent a letter on May 1 to the congressional liaison of the National Park Service asking for help.

Barrow said Gulas initially was cordial but became arrogant when Barrow couldn't find his registration or proof of insurance.

"Do you have marijuana in the vehicle, sir?" Barrow says Gulas asked. "I think you have marijuana in your car, don't you?"

Barrow said Gulas pulled out his Taser when Barrow tried to close the passenger door of his car. Barrow was told to sit in the dirt about 10 feet from the vehicle.

Gulas called Border Patrol, and an agent arrived with a dog to sniff Barrow's car. Barrow said the dog caused several hundred dollars' worth of damage, and he has filed a claim with Border Patrol.

Baker said there's drug- and human-trafficking throughout Southern Arizona parks, and drug crimes can be violent. "We train them to be professional and good at their jobs," she said of rangers.

Because the incident is still under investigation, Baker couldn't say if other patrons have complained about Gulas.

"What at first began as a pleasant hike and a nice memory in a national park ended up a nightmare," Barrow said. "Is this what tourists get when they visit Arizona? Tourists being treated like criminals?"

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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