Surveillance video of rancher colliding into children’s ATV released

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson

THATCHER – A surveillance video of part of the alleged incident between rancher Harold Lackner, 67, and off-road riding juveniles has been released. The incident took place in the 3900 block of Valley View Road on April 7 and was reported at about 7:13 p.m.  

In the video, the juveniles are shown leaping from the ATV mere seconds before a truck allegedly driven by Harold Robert Lackner, 67, of Willcox, enters at a high rate of speed and slams into the off-road vehicle. After cursing and failing to learn the juvenile’s home address, Lackner then allegedly proceeded to retrieve a knife and slash all four tires on the ATV before leaving the area. Several videos were obtained by police, and some were also uploaded to social media by some of the victims’ relatives. A later inspection of the ATV showed the damage from the truck and the four slashed tires.  

A man – who police say is Lackner, then gets out of the truck and proceeds to puncture every tire with a knife. 

In a police interview, Lackner denied ramming the ATV and puncturing the tires, however, authorities have other videos and pictures that show him better and the truck was found on his property with apparent damage from the incident. 

Prior to leaving, the man in the truck rams the ATV one last time then exits the area. 

According to Thatcher Police reports, the incident began when Lackner attempted to stop four juveniles operating two off-road vehicles in the desert area west of Daley Estates near the Blue Ponds area. Lackner leases state land west of Daley Estates to ranch cattle.

At that time, the youths advised Lackner stopped them while they were traveling on the main road, which is maintained by the city of Safford, and threatened to “put a bullet in their head.” The youths said while Lackner appeared to attempt to retrieve a shotgun from his truck, none of the victims ever saw a firearm and they fled. Officers were shown the area later and it came up as being city of Safford-owned land. The city also owns the Blue Ponds area.

Authorities identified Lackner from the various videos and Police Chief Shaffen Woods advised the town’s police have had multiple dealings with him and had personally heard him curse and make threats in the same manner as displayed in the videos.

“He has been brought to magistrate court on city code violations and been disruptive and belligerent during these hearings,” Woods wrote in his report. “He is well known in the area and his behavior is often consistent with the type of behavior that is reported to have occurred in this incident.”

Authorities searched for Lackner that day in Graham County and Willcox where he resides but he was not located. The following day, authorities – including some from the Safford Police Department – spied Lackner driving his truck in the Willcox area and initiated a traffic stop after he committed a minor moving violation. He has since been charged with four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of endangerment, criminal damage, and threatening or intimidating.   

Lackner was extradited to Graham County and is being held in the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on a $200,000 bond. His case has moved out of Justice Court and is now being adjudicated in Graham County Superior Court with Channen Day serving as his defense attorney.