Texas Stand-Off

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FORT DAVIS, Texas: Police continued their blockade of the remote Davis Mountains community even after two hostages were released by members of the Republic of Texas separatist group. Richard McLaren, who calls himself the group's ambassador and an unknown number of others remain inside the development of tiny 1 to 5 acre 'ranchettes' in mountains 175 miles southeast of El Paso along with some 150 residents. Warrants are being drafted for at least three members who started the standoff on Sunday when they allegedly took Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe hostage. The couple was freed early Monday after police met the group's demand to release Robert Jonathan Scheidt, their security chief who had been jailed on a weapons charge. McLaren is negotiating with state and federal officials from his trailer, which he calls the "embassy" of the Republic. He is seeking the release of another member, Jo Ann Canady Turner, and demands that a referendum be held to decide whether Texas should become an independent republic. Spokesmen for two groups each claiming to be the official government of the Republic of Texas have been quick to disavow McLaren, who was kicked out of any official capacity in both groups months ago over growing concern about what they say was McLaren's increasing advocacy of violence to achieve their aim of a sovereign Texas. While a few federal agents have joined local and state law enforcement officials, they have tried to keep a low profile so far, anxious to avoid a repetition of Waco. Local residents claim that sensitivity has been part of the problem, charging that local law enforcement officers allowed McLaren's group to go unchecked even after they threatened neighbors with automatic weapons.