The GoFundMe fundraising website removed multiple campaigns that were set up to support and raise money for a 73-year-old Arizona rancher who was arrested in late January and charged with first-degree murder after allegedly shooting and killing an illegal alien who reportedly trespassed on his property.
A spokesperson for the platform told NTD in an emailed statement that the company’s terms of service “explicitly prohibit campaigns that raise money to cover the legal defense of anyone formally charged with an alleged violent crime.”
“Consistent with this long-standing policy, any fundraising campaigns for the legal defense of someone charged with murder are removed from our platform,” the spokesperson said, noting that people who donated to the fundraising campaigns for George Alan Kelly’s legal expenses “have been fully refunded.”
On Jan. 30, authorities proceeded with the arrest of Kelly after finding the body of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, an illegal immigrant who lived in Nogales, Mexico, and allegedly crossed onto Kelly’s land. Cuen-Butimea was identified from a Mexican voter registration card he carried.
According to reports, Cuen-Butimea had entered the United States illegally on multiple occasions and was deported repeatedly.
Full details about the shooting have not been made available yet, and it is unknown whether the rancher and the deceased knew each other.
Kelly is being held at the Santa Cruz County Jail in Nogales, Arizona, and his bail was set at $1 million by Justice Emilio Velasquez. Kelly requested the judge to lower his bail in order to go back home and take care of his wife, but this motion was denied by the judge, who told Kelly that his lawyer had to file a request, which has yet to be done.
“She’s there by herself … nobody to take care of her, the livestock, or the ranch,” he said, according to Nogales International. “And I’m not going anywhere. I can’t come up with a million dollars.”
The incident happened in the Kino Springs area just outside Nogales, according to Sheriff Chief Deputy Gerardo Castillo. A call came in at about 2:40 p.m. on Jan. 30 regarding a shooting in the Sagebrush Road area, according to Nogales International. There were reports of a commotion at the scene, but the deputies found nothing on arrival.
However, around 6:00 p.m., the sheriff’s office received another call about shots fired at the property. This time deputies found the deceased body of Cuen-Butimea, with a visible gunshot wound, 100–150 yards from Kelly’s house.
Kelly lived one and a half miles north of the border with Mexico, roughly three-quarters of a mile southeast of Kino Springs Road. Kelly was arrested because the body was found on his property.
Shannon Pritchard, campaign creator for Kelly’s active fundraiser on another website, GiveSendGo, said Kelly had “difficulty keeping invaders” off his property in prior incidents, also contending that she believes the hefty bail of $1 million is “purely political.”
“It is a tragedy that a simple farmer, who should be protected by the government, has been abandoned and had to defend himself,” Pritchard wrote on the page. “That is bad enough, but the government that caused this now wishes to persecute him.”
GiveSendGo is an alternative website that describes itself as a Christian crowdfunding site. The platform, which is less inclined to remove pages, also remained open for donations—and raised more than $600,000—after GoFundMe took down multiple pages seeking to raise money for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who was arrested in 2021 for a shooting that happened during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Heather Wilson, the co-founder of GiveSendGo, told Fox News in a statement on Thursday that her company will not take the campaign down “based on own biases,” noting that the company operates on “the presumption of innocent until proven guilty.”
“This is exactly why GiveSendGo exists. To allow people to have a voice and gain support in times of need,” Wilson told the network. “At this time, [we] do not know any more than what is being shared on the news, but we do know that in our country a legal defense is not just for the wealthy. We will continue to allow the raising of funds for legal defense on GiveSendGo, as the presumption of innocent until proven guilty is a bedrock to our Justice system.”
Epoch Times reporter Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.