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Thread: Live Free or Die in Texas

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    GuncoHolic Black Blade's Avatar
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    Default Live Free or Die in Texas

    'We will live free or you will die': Meet the gun-loving, God-fearing family who shun modern life and have been in a standoff with police for the last 11 yearsJohn Joe Gray, 63, has refused to yield to an arrest warrant from 2000

    He bit a policeman when officers found high-powered rifles in his car

    Went to his 47-acre Texas compound and stocked up on weapons

    Told authorities to 'bring body bags' if they ever dared to try and take him

    By Daily Mail Reporter
    Last updated at 11:44 PM on 16th November 2011

    They are the gun-toting, scripture-spouting, government-hating Texan family who warn anyone daring enough to approach the fencing around their home: 'We fear no man. We believe in an eye for an eye and a bullet for a bullet.'

    Led by grandfather John Joe Gray, the tribe of a dozen or so men, women and children have been waging a war against both local sheriffs and federal agencies for an incredible 11 years.

    Welcome to America's longest-running police standoff. It shows no signs of ending.



    Fearful of no man: For more than 11 years, John Joe Gray and his clan, including son Timothy, daughter Ruth, and granddaughter Jessica, right, have been holed up inside a 47-acre plot of Texas land

    The family have been holed up in their patch of rural land in Trinidad, Texas, living a pre-20th-Century existence, since January 2000 waiting for a siege which, in truth, has never really materialised.

    Gray and his clan have been living on 47 acres behind a fence without running water and electricity but with plenty of guns, challenging authorities to arrest the patriarch for a third-degree felony warrant issued more than a decade ago.

    He says he hasn't left his property since 2000, all the while allowing his distrust of a government he views as evil to fester.

    The handmade warning signs have faded and the hordes of fellow militia members have long since gone, leaving behind only Gray and some relatives he won't say how many on the tree-shaded property along a river in rural Henderson County, about 50 miles southeast of Dallas.

    They grow their own food and live in a shack and trailer always wearing holsters, hand-made from animal hide; always carrying weapons.



    God-fearing: The family are highly religious and shun modern technology, preferring to make their own holsters from animal hide. Pictured is Gray's 39-year-old son Jonathan and his 'old enough' daughter Jessica

    'It's the most peculiar thing to watch the men play a game of raquetball with pistols and knives in their belts,' Dolores McCarter told the National Enquirer.

    She is a family friend who lives outside the gates, and operates Dee's House in Arlington, Texas, a charity helping battered women and children. 'They live like they're back in another century.'

    Gray then sent a handwritten letter on dusty notebook paper telling authorities that they'd 'better bring plenty of body bags' if they stormed his compound'I'll never leave,' said Gray, who has grown a long, silvery beard in the 11 years he has remained locked in the compound. 'I don't feel like a prisoner ... because I'm living out here and following God's laws.'

    Gray, now 63, had worked in construction and led a Texas militia group that often trained on the isolated property where he lived for about 15 years before the so-called standoff.

    In late 1999 Gray, now in his 60s, was in a car pulled over for speeding in nearby Anderson County.

    State troopers saw high-powered rifles and anti-government materials in the car, but Gray refused to get out. When the troopers tried to remove him from the car, he allegedly bit one trooper's hand and tried to grab his gun.

    After his arrest Gray showed up in court for a bail hearing, when Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe told the judge he feared Gray was a major threat because troopers found diagrams of plans to blow up a Dallas overpass.



    Warning signs: Along with this wooden plank promoting hanging, the Gray family have signs which read: 'Disobedience to Tyranny is Obedience to God!', 'We Will Live Free Or You'll Die,' and 'Howdy - Now Git!'

    'I wanted the judge to know what he was possibly thinking,' Lowe said.

    But Gray posted bond and left, never showing up again in court. Gray then sent a handwritten letter on dusty notebook paper telling authorities that they'd 'better bring plenty of body bags' if they stormed his compound, said Gary Thomas, a former investigator for Anderson County prosecutors.

    'It's time this country knows that God is coming'
    - Family patriarch John Joe Gray

    That never happened. Authorities in Henderson County didn't want to risk a gun battle that likely would have killed officers or children on the compound, said Sheriff Ray Nutt, the third sheriff in office since 2000. If Gray is ever spotted driving in town or seen at a business, however, he will be arrested, Nutt said.

    'They were pretty well fixed up with weapons,' recalled Howard 'Slick' Alfred, the Henderson County sheriff at the time. 'They had better weapons than we had. There was children in there. He was kind of hiding behind those kids. I didn't want another Waco kind of deal.'

    Waco was 1993 siege which started in similar fashion, with the stand-off against the Branch Davidian community, and ended two months later when FBI agents launched an attack which caused a fire that claimed the lives of the sect's leader, David Koresh, and at least 76 of his followers, including about 20 children. Waco is about 75 miles from the Gray compound in Trinidad.

    Gray hasn't paid property taxes since 1995. The county has sued him for $12,700 in back taxes and interest penalties. But Nutt said it's too dangerous for deputies to serve notice of the suit filed in 2008, and until that happens, the case cannot proceed.



    Armed to the teeth: Men, women and children all bear arms and have deadly aim. Left is Gray's 33-year-old son Timothy, right is his 31-year-old daughter Ruth

    'Our hands are tied,' said Anna Marie Fontana, a legal assistant with McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen, the law firm that filed the suit for Henderson County.

    As Gray settled into his compound, militia members from several states heeded Internet messages 'calling all patriots' and arrived to help stand guard 24 hours a day at the entrance.

    The handmade signs with warnings or Bible verses still hang from the fencepost or trees: 'Disobedience to Tyranny is Obedience to God!', 'We Are Militia And Will Live Free Or You'll Die,' and 'Howdy - Now Git!' Gray even wrote 'kids inside' on one, expecting a raid.

    'There's two people that family looks up to: Mel Gibson and Chuck,' an intermediary said. But even Norris couldn't resolve the impasseThe case gained national notoriety in the summer of 2000. In August that year, three armed men ventured into a neighbouring pasture at dusk and destroyed a surveillance camera and video transmitter that authorities had placed in a horse trailer, before retreating to the Gray property.

    Later, Chuck Norris, martial artist, actor, right-wing Christian book author and fellow Texan, met with Gray at his ranch and offered to get him free legal representation in an attempt to end the standoff. 'There's two people that family looks up to: Mel Gibson and Chuck,' an intermediary said. But even Norris couldn't resolve the impasse.

    'I wanted him to turn himself in, and we talked about what he would do after that ... but I never made a concrete offer because he just didn't want to turn himself in,' Lowe said.

    For Gray, though, there is a higher power to listen to. 'It's coming,' he said of the apocalypse. 'It's time this country knows God is coming.'

    Warily covering Gray's flanks are two of his six children, sons Jonathan, 39, and Timothy, 33. The dark-bearded, fit and tanned brothers are as well-armed as their father.

    Ten feet behind her brothers and father, long-haired Ruth Gray, 31, stands solemn and silent. She, too, is armed to the teeth.

    Next to her is teenager Jessica Gray, 'who is old enough,' according to her father, Jonathan. She has on a cowboy hat that the wind keeps blowing off, a long denim skirt, a sequined denim vest and cowboy boots. She's packing a pistol and binoculars.



    Warm welcome: A sign near the front entrance reads 'Howdy, Now Git!'

    Another one of Gray's relatives has a special reason to want the case resolved. Former son-in-law Keith Tarkington has not seen his sons since his then-wife, who is Gray's daughter, moved to the property with the boys in 1999 before the standoff began.

    John Joe Gray had grown increasingly paranoid and wanted his family - minus Tarkington - to live there and prepare for the turn of the millennium, the ex-son-in-law said.

    Gray and another family member had run-ins with authorities over their lack of drivers' licenses and car registrations - instead using tags from the Oregon-based Embassy of Heaven, a sect that rejects governmental authority.

    Gray has accused local authorities of targeting him because he knows about their longtime drug-manufacturing facilities near his property - a claim authorities dismiss as ridiculous. He also claimed that a jail nurse tried to inject him with a tracking device.

    Tarkington said he didn't want his children raised around Gray and filed for divorce in 1999. Lisa Gray never appeared for court hearings, and Tarkington was granted custody - though he says he was prevented from seeing the children when he repeatedly went to Gray's property.

    'I wonder what they look like now. Are they left- or right-handed? Things like that,' said Tarkington, who lives in nearby Gun Barrel City. 'People have said, "When you get them, they'll be so screwed up and afraid, and they won't know you." But I love them, and I'm still their father.'

    Authorities say removing them from Gray's compound by force is too risky. And besides, they might not even be living there any more.

    'It's peculiar to watch men play raquetball with pistols and knives in their belts. They live like they're in another century'

    - Family friendSome wonder if the case is still on officials' radar because folks have reported seeing Gray driving in nearby towns and going to stores.

    'It sticks in my craw that somebody's done this and gotten away with it,' said Thomas, the former investigator, now a justice of the peace. 'But it just became a frenzy, and everybody got so gun-shy and was afraid of stepping on toes.'

    As the years have passed, Gray and his family have been living peacefully on their land and want to be left alone. He won't say whether Tarkington's sons were among the children who have lived there, or where they are now.

    The Grays drink well water, eat vegetables grown in their garden and fish in the river that borders the land covered with a canopy of trees. They live in a ramshackle house and a mobile home and often eat at the picnic table far from the road but visible through the trees.

    Neighbours say the Grays are misunderstood by law enforcement and the media and have never caused problems.

    Even the sheriff notes the time a few years ago when one of the Grays - it's not clear exactly which family member - called for help on a CB radio when a hunter was injured on neighboring property, and the family tended to him until an ambulance arrived.

    'Our department right now could probably go out there and talk to John Joe Gray face-to-face,' Nutt said, adding that he doesn't plan to do that. 'The situation is stable. But these situations could explode at any time. We are prepared if something forces us into a situation.'

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2062479/John-Joe-Gray-How-Americas-longest-running-police-standoff-shows-signs-ending.html#ixzz1dztykXIy


    Black Blade: I can dig it. Hopefully the "little guy" will win out on this. More likely is that he will stay there until he passes away and his kids cough up the property tax bill.
    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America , you get a front row seat. - George Carlin


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    BANNED FyredUp's Avatar
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    You can dig what?

    That he was pulled over for speeding?

    That he attempted to bite a police officer?

    That they don't have driver's licenses or vehicle registrations?

    That in violation of a court order they are preventing a father from seeing the kids he has legal custody of?

    That because this "little guy" is hiding behind children and the authorites are using discretion instead of putting them in harms way he will most likely get away with all of it?



    He is no hero, no revolutionary, no patriot...he is nothing more than a common criminal, hiding behind children, armed to the teeth, fully aware that the police do not want another Waco with dead children on their hands.

    Honestly, why in God's name would you support him?

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    Cranky Curmudgeon zoom6zoom's Avatar
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    State troopers saw high-powered rifles and anti-government materials in the car,
    Neither of which was illegal in most places, last I checked.

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    BANNED FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoom6zoom View Post
    Neither of which was illegal in most places, last I checked.
    Then WHY assault the cops? Why not just get out of the car and deal with them in a law abiding manner? Instead, what was something that probably would have turned out to be nothing has turned into 11 years of him hiding behind children on his property. Some hero.

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    Gunco Regular SouthTexasGuy's Avatar
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    Fryed, ZoomZoom, I agree with you, and I think Blade agrees too. If anyone of us were stopped by police we would stop and let them have a look with no clashing of molars or bicuspids on Peace Officers. If they arrested us (and especially me) on some trumped up charge, my lil Jewish lawyer who I pay a retainer to, would rip their scrotums off in court, dangle them around for the jury to see and then make the State eat them like raw oysters!

    However, with that said, if this talking turd in the WH gets another term, or someone like him ( big gummit, lying ass Romney) gets in, we may actually be facing a Police State.

    When that happens and the SHTF, only ole Texas guys/gals like Mr. Gray and family and prepared members on this board will be around to tell the tale!

    I think that is what is Mr. Black Blade was attempting to convey.

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    BANNED FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthTexasGuy View Post
    Fryed, ZoomZoom, I agree with you, and I think Blade agrees too. If anyone of us were stopped by police we would stop and let them have a look with no clashing of molars or bicuspids on Peace Officers. If they arrested us (and especially me) on some trumped up charge, my lil Jewish lawyer who I pay a retainer to, would rip their scrotums off in court, dangle them around for the jury to see and then make the State eat them like raw oysters!

    However, with that said, if this talking turd in the WH gets another term, or someone like him ( big gummit, lying ass Romney) gets in, we may actually be facing a Police State.

    When that happens and the SHTF, only ole Texas guys/gals like Mr. Gray and family and prepared members on this board will be around to tell the tale!

    I think that is what is Mr. Black Blade was attempting to convey.
    It seems of late all we get in the Whitehouse are turds of one sort or another. Either their views are so far out of touch that they don't see the damage they are doing, OR they make promises they simply have no way of keeping.

    I think we can be prepared without being like Mr Gray. In fact I believe the best way to be prepared is to remain under the radar. The less people that know you have guns and ammunition, stockpiles of food, medicine, hygiene supplies, fuel, and anything else, the better off I believe you are. The fact is now EVERYONE that reads the newspaper, reads this forum, all of his neighbors, the cops, local county and state, nows about him and his arsenal. Not very smart in my book.

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    NoWorkCamp4Me railbuggy's Avatar
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    If you show disrespect to cincinnati police,you gamble with your life.
    SOON-We already lost the war. You are the resistance.

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    GuncoHolic Black Blade's Avatar
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    Actually I was referring to being able to live off the land and being self sufficient for 11 years. But yeah, it looks like he would have been only charged with some misdemeanors if he pled out after all was said and done. Then again, if he was convicted of felonies his life would be forever changed. In a sense perhaps he's free-er now than he would have been if he submitted to the authorities. Some people will stand on principle and others will meekly submit no matter what (remember the Holocaust, Holodomor, Pol Pot, etc).
    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America , you get a front row seat. - George Carlin


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    BANNED FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Blade View Post
    Actually I was referring to being able to live off the land and being self sufficient for 11 years. But yeah, it looks like he would have been only charged with some misdemeanors if he pled out after all was said and done. Then again, if he was convicted of felonies his life would be forever changed. In a sense perhaps he's free-er now than he would have been if he submitted to the authorities. Some people will stand on principle and others will meekly submit no matter what (remember the Holocaust, Holodomor, Pol Pot, etc).
    I understand the living off the land. If in fact they are totally living off the land. It appears people from the compound go into town.

    Look, I just can't wrap my mind around how this guy is anything but a petty criminal hiding behind the children at the compound. He is fully aware that the cops won't assault the property because they don't want the press of dead children hanging over them. I don't see hiding behind kids as principled, brave, heroic or patriotic. Frankly, I see him as a coward using kids as a shield.

    Look, I have principles, and I am sure that you do also. Do yours include trying to bite a cop over a relatively minor traffic stop? If he wasn't breaking any laws by transporting the guns then why turn it into a possible felony assault and battery of a police officer? I will stand by my principles, and I do not meekly submit to anyone, include the police, but a smart man chooses his battles and this seems like beyond an idiotic choice made by Mr Gray. He can say whatever he wants about being free but inreality he is in a self imposed prison that he knows he can't leave without threat of arrest. Sounds like a wonderful life...yeah right.

    You and I have disagreed on other topics, and I think actually we may agree more than we disagree here, but to compare this petty criminal hiding behind children to the victims of the Holocaust, Holodomor, and Pol Pot is insulting to their memories and the horrors they suffered.

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    Gunco Member 2ndamndmnt's Avatar
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    does anyone know if any of the children go into town?

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