A neighbor in the area where an illegal immigrant is believed to have killed a well-liked Arizona rancher says she intends to carry weapons to protect herself -- and not from rattlesnakes or wounded steer.
Wendy Glenn says she heard Robert Krentz communicating with his brother on the radio Saturday before he was shot dead. Authorities said Krentz, 58, was tending to water lines and fencing on his family's ranch in the known smuggling corridor when he was heard saying "illegal alien" on the radio.
"That's the last we heard from him," said Glenn, who lives on the nearby Malpai Ranch.
Krentz, whose family has owned Krentz Ranch, about 35 miles northeast of Douglas, since 1907, was found fatally shot just hours later.
"We have all been carrying guns for several years," said Glenn, referring to her fellow ranchers in the region. "But now we're going to be much more and pay more attention. We have an element of people coming up here who are not the normal league of aliens from 10 years ago."
Glenn said there's been a "flood" of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country in the area since amnesty started being discussed as a potential answer to the country's immigration crisis.
"It makes us feel really bad, they're trashing the land, they're leaving garbage," she told FoxNews.com. "But we tolerate it because we have no choice."
She called for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to increase their presence in the area in the wake of a murder she said has "devastated" the close-knit community 35 miles from the Mexican border.
"This is a senseless, stupid killing," Glenn said. "It would've been different if he was attacking someone."
Glenn said Krentz was "gentle giant" who often helped illegal immigrants crossing into the United States on his 35,000-acre ranch.
"We all have," she said. "They're having babies in our pastures, they're breaking their legs … It's a tough deal because these people are here illegally but they are human beings."
Krentz, a devout Catholic, would "help anyone" in need, she said.
"We lost a really good guy. He wasn't family, but it's like losing family."
Steven Cribby, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said 88,453 illegal immigrants were picked up in the Tuscon, Ariz., sector between Oct. 1, 2009, and Feb. 28. That area, which includes Ajo to Douglas, Ariz., includes the region where Krentz was shot. That figure is up 9 percent from the same span the previous year, Cribby said.
"It's our busiest sector," he said. "[It's] not a significant increase, really."