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CEASE-FIRE : TEXAS SEPARATISTS GIVE UP; 2 FLEE TO WOODS.

Byline: Mark Babineck Associated Press

Texas separatists laid down their arms and left their mountain hideaway Saturday, ending their weeklong standoff with authorities. But two heavily armed followers eluded authorities, fleeing into the woods.

Richard McLaren, the self-styled ambassador of the Republic of Texas secessionist movement, signed a ``cease-fire document'' with the Texas Rangers at about 2:15 p.m.

By 4 p.m., McLaren and three followers abandoned their ``embassy,'' a trailer in the remote Davis Mountains. They left behind 24 pipe bombs, eight to 10 gasoline cans with coils around them, a propane tank with a pipe bomb attached to it, along with 10 rifles and up to 700 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

``They had a military-style ceremony at which they laid down their arms . . . in a circle,'' Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike Cox said.

McLaren did not use the word ``surrender.''

``It was a cease-fire and they agreed to come out,'' Cox said. ``We are delighted to finally resolve a standoff situation that has been in the national limelight in a peaceful manner.''

The group members were taken into custody at a Texas Rangers command center. There, they were reunited with McLaren's wife, Evelyn, who left before noon, and another member who left Friday.

The five who surrendered were in jail, awaiting a bail hearing later Saturday night.

``I was captured, not surrendered, and I'm ashamed I didn't die,'' Greg Paulson told reporters as he was being taken to the Presidio County Jail in Marfa.

Although authorities found numerous weapons at the trailer, McLaren had told authorities that the devices ``were no longer armed,'' Cox said.

The Department of Public Safety was searching for Richard Frank Keyes III and Mike Matson. They disappeared into a heavily wooded canyon wearing green camouflage and were believed to be carrying two rifles and a 9 mm pistol.

Authorities were using up to two dozen dogs, airplanes and troopers on horseback to search for them, Cox said.

Before the group surrendered, Ralph Matson told The Associated Press: ``My brother feels that he would rather die fighting for somebody's rights than spend the rest of his life in jail.''

Keyes is wanted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the hostage-taking that sparked the standoff. No charges have been filed against Matson.

The 43-year-old McLaren, a Missouri native who moved to Texas in the 1970s, believes Texas was illegally annexed by the United States in 1845. He heads one of at least three factions calling themselves the Republic of Texas.

When Evelyn McLaren left the trailer in the midmorning, she told officials that those she left behind were ready to come out. At that time, details for the cease-fire were finalized. The document was signed by Texas Rangers Capt. Barry Caver and the McLarens, Cox said.

``It was only a page and a paragraph long,'' Cox said. ``Essentially all it was was an agreement for a cease-fire.''

Gov. George W. Bush, who had promised not to intervene in the standoff, said he was proud to see the matter resolved without force.

``It re-emphasizes what I say - Texans can run Texas,'' he said. ``The message ought to be very clearly to people that, you're free to think any way you want to think, but you better not arm up and hurt innocent citizens because we'll enforce the law in our state.''

The stalemate began last Sunday when several McLaren followers stormed the home of two neighbors in their remote suburb of the Davis Mountains and held the couple hostage in protest of the arrest of group member Robert Scheidt.

Scheidt was exchanged for the hostages early Monday, but the standoff continued. Scheidt, who faces felony charges of engaging in organized crime, surrendered Friday and reportedly told a state trooper: ``I had to get out of there. I couldn't stand it anymore.''

By Friday, authorities had moved to within a quarter-mile of the group, prompting McLaren to issue ``a mayday call for any nation in the world. . . . We are being invaded!'' Authorities said they picked up radio transmissions of group members being urged to shoot-to-kill.

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos

Photo: (1) Richard McLaren, front, and his wife, Evelyn, are driven to Presidio County Jail in Marfa, Texas.

(2) Attorney Terry O'Rourke shows a copy of the cease-fire agreement.

(3) Rod Rutledge, left, Julie Hopkins, J.C. Mason and Michelle O'Rourke celebrate after hearing relative Evelyn McLaren left the Republic of Texas compound safely.

(4) In a photo taken in March, Richard and Evelyn McLaren stand outside their home near Fort Davis, Texas, where the standoff took place.

Associated Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 4, 1997
Words:775
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