wild burro mojave
A wild burro (donkey) walking through the Mojave Desert. Image: WikiCommons

Two Men in Tactical Gear Killed Wild Burros with Unregistered Short-Barreled Rifles

This week, a Colorado man and a California man pleaded guilty to multiple charges in a California federal court connected to the illegal killing of three wild burros in the Mojave Desert, according to an announcement from the Justice Department. 

Christopher Arnet, 32, of Loveland, Colorado, and Cameron Feikema, 36, of Yorba Linda, California, pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle (SBR) and maliciously causing the death of a burro on public land. 

According to their plea agreements, Arnet and Feikema admitted to driving out to public space around 1 o'clock in the morning on Nov. 5, 2021, and shooting and killing three burros. 

Prosecutors add that at the time of the incident, both men were dressed in tactical gear, including ballistic helmets equipped with night vision goggles, a handgun in a drop holster, a tactical vest, and electronic ear muffs. 

Together, they fired at least 13 rounds — Arnet fired at least five while Feikema fired at least four. Prosecutors say one shot hit a burro near its spine, paralyzed it, and likely caused severe pain before it died. 

Then, on Aug. 10, 2022, investigators seized the unregistered SBRs at the defendants' homes. Arnet had an Aero Precision SBR, a privately manufactured SLR Rifleworks SBR, and a Heckler & Koch SP5. And Feikema had a Bravo Company SBR equipped with a folding stock. 

Prosecutors also say that investigators traced one projectile removed from one of the dead burros to one of Arnet's rifles, and recovered four casings from the scene that had been fired from Feikema's rifle. 

In their plea deals, both men agreed to forfeit their unregistered firearms, more than 4,000 rounds of ammo, night vision goggles, and other tactical gear. 

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for both men on July 8, where they could both receive up to 10 years in federal prison for their unregistered SBRs and one year for killing wild burros.