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University reacts to hostage situation

April 29, 1997

By Melissa Miller

Lariat Reporter

Two people were held hostage Sunday for 12 hours in Fort Davis for disagreeing with a separatist group that claims Texas is a free nation.

Group members fired shots while entering the home of the leader of the local homeowners association around noon. Group members injured Joe Rowe in the shoulder, according to the Waco-Tribune Herald. Mrs. Rowe escaped injury.

'Paramilitary groups are not new, the thing is that there are federal crimes now being committed,' Dr. Thomas Charlton, history professor, said. 'The people who are calling themselves the Republic of Texas today are a self-anointed group.'

Police surrounded their headquarters in the Davis Mountains Sunday night and attempted to begin negotiations with the group and self anointed leader Richard McLaren.

The group claims that the United States failed to properly annex Texas under the United States Constitution and believes Texas allied itself with the Southern states during the Civil War, but never legally joined the union.

'As far as my knowledge, they are accurate that Texas was not properly annexed, but that does not really matter,' Ran Nelson, a Watauga junior, said. 'He clams he can call up a 5,000 member guard, which would change the situation dramatically.'

The group appears to be separated, with warring factions, according to Charlton.

'They don't even know where the leader is,' Charlton said. 'Certain factions are disowning each other. This is not a solid group.'

Currently the number of members involved in the group is unreleased. The group claims on its home page that 70 percent of Texans favor a separate nation. Charlton disagrees.

'It is a baffling thing,' Charlton said. 'A lot of us wish it would go away. I think the only thing they can wish for is to get some settlement, no one is going to hand Texas over to them.'

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