Hostages in Texas Standoff Are Released

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Armed members of a group demanding a referendum on Texas independence were locked in a standoff with authorities Monday after freeing two hostages in exchange for a jailed comrade.

State and federal officers ringed the mountainous Davis Mountains Resort community and more were on the way.

Authorities were negotiating with Richard McLaren, self-styled “ambassador” of one faction of the separatist group called the Republic of Texas. McLaren said in a news release that discussions were taking place at his “embassy,” a trailer in the development.


“He continues to invoke the laws of the Republic of Texas,” said Mike Cox, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Republic members have told negotiators that “they will defend their sovereign soil.”

It was not known exactly where the group was holed up or how many members were there, or what type of weapons they have.

Authorities urged other residents of the sprawling, remote community to leave the area. But “no one else is considered in harm’s way,” Cox said.

The confrontation started Sunday when two men and a woman wearing military-style fatigues fired assault rifles at the front door of community residents Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe and took them hostage.

They were held for 12 hours while their captors demanded the release of two followers who had been arrested. Early Monday, they exchanged the Rowes for Robert Jonathan Scheidt, identified as “captain of the embassy guard” of the Republic of Texas. It was unclear who authorized the release of Scheidt, who was arrested Sunday on weapons charges.

Margaret Ann Rowe said she and her husband believed the attackers were willing to kill them.


“It wasn’t an empty threat. If somebody will come shooting in your door, they mean it,” she said at a medical center in Alpine, where her husband was in stable condition with shrapnel wounds to his shoulder.

Scheidt joined the three people who took the Rowes hostage.

After the exchange, the armed group left the Rowes’ home, and authorities didn’t know where they were within the forested, mountainous development of widely separated homes.

The group’s members contend that they are the legitimate government of Texas, which they say was illegally annexed as a state in 1845. Texas was an independent republic from 1836 to 1845.

For months, bodyguards have protected McLaren as he holed up in the Davis Mountains while deputies waited to serve outstanding warrants, one stemming from a burglary charge, another from his failure to appear for a federal court hearing. Authorities have said the warrants were not a top priority.

Scheidt was arrested Sunday morning after Sheriff Steve Bailey clocked him speeding outside the subdivision and found several weapons in his vehicle, including an automatic rifle, Cox said.

Scheidt did not post bail, and Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Laureen Chernow said she did not know if charges had been dropped or if he had been released on his own recognizance.


The group also demanded the release of Jo Ann Canady Turner, arrested in Austin last week on two contempt charges. She remained in custody Monday.