Texas Armed Standoff Is Over After 15 Years

No one told either side the charges had been dropped
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 2:37 PM CST
Texas Armed Standoff Ends After 15 Years
Handmade signs on John Joe Gray's property near Trinidad, Texas.   (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

For anyone wondering how long the Ammon Bundy situation in Oregon can last: An armed standoff in Texas "came to a peaceful close" this week—after going on for about 15 years, WFAA reports. John Joe Gray was charged with assaulting a state trooper in 1999, but he refused to show up in court, instead shutting himself up in his 47-acre compound and kicking off what is believed to be the longest armed standoff in US history. After holing up on his property, Gray warned law enforcement to "bring body bags" if they came to get him, reports the New York Times. They never did, and Gray hasn't left since. Supporters—including Chuck Norris at one point—brought food and supplies as Gray's family and friends patrolled the property with guns.

The strange part: WFAA reports the standoff technically ended in 2014, when the outgoing DA dropped the charge against Gray, but nobody apparently told either side. Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, informed this week by a reporter, called the DA's office himself to confirm the news, reports the Times. “He actually could walk out tomorrow and be a free man," says Nutt. "He’s no longer a fugitive." But when a reporter relayed the same message at Gray's property, it was met with skepticism. “We can’t believe anything they say, and we can’t believe anything y’all reporters say,” said a woman armed with a rifle. For his part, Nutt says he now thinks it made sense all these years to avoid a confrontation, and he tells WFAA he's glad it's over. "Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself, in my opinion, for 14 years." (Ghost hunters were found dead after a SWAT standoff.)

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