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Army Reservist, Arrested in Ariz. for detaining Mexicans, Calls Himself Victim

PHOENIX, Ariz. - An Army reservist arrested on charges that he detained seven Mexicans at gunpoint in southwestern Arizona said he is a victim, not a vigilante.

Sgt. Patrick Haab, 24, was being held on seven counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He said he drew a revolver to stop some of the men _ later determined to be illegal immigrants _ from rushing him Sunday night at a highway rest stop.

"I believe I'm a victim," said Haab, who spent 11 months in Iraq but declined to discuss his duties there. He said he takes medication for combat stress.

"This could have been a very serious confrontation," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday. Haab broke the law by taking it into his own hands and his claim of being a victim "doesn't pan out," he said.

The incident occurred at Sentinel about 260 miles (420 kilometers) from the southeastern Arizona border where civilian efforts to watch for illegal immigrants has stirred worries of vigilante violence.

Haab said he is not a member of the Minuteman Project and said he knew little of its mission. Haab insisted he was not attempting to round up people resembling illegal immigrants.

At one point he had the seven men climb out of a vehicle one-by-one and lie on the sidewalk.

"I never used force on them, I never threatened them, I never cocked the hammer," said Haab, who is assigned to the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He said he acted in self-defense, thinking the men were going to tackle him.

Haab said either the Border Patrol or sheriff's deputies told him by phone to let the men go. The seven were later taken into custody.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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