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Authorities Arrest Four of the 'Texas Seven'; One Escapee Barricaded in Motor Home

Aired January 22, 2001 - 4:31 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, reporting to you from CNN Center, the latest developments in Woodland Park, Colorado. An apparent capture of several of the individuals involved in the "Texas Seven" -- those would be the inmates that escaped from the maximum security facility in Texas in mid December, have been on the run ever since -- apparently involved in a shooting in a sporting goods store in Texas on Christmas Eve where a local police officer was killed.

You see here the picture of the Texas Seven. Authorities now tell us that four of these individuals: those would be George Rivas, thought to be the ringleader, Joseph Garcia, thought to be his first lieutenant in this operation, as well as Michael Rodriguez and Randy Halprin -- those are the individuals that authorities in Colorado and in Texas are confirming have been arrested in Woodland Park at a trailer park -- the Coachlight, a recreational vehicle home there, outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Those four individuals have been arrested.

Larry Harper, the 5th individual, said to remain barricaded inside one of the trailer units, one that the group had been staying in -- not though to be harbored by anyone in this trailer park, but rather, have come to this facility. rented out a home, and had been staying there -- for a time we do not know yet at this point.

Those two individuals we have not talked about, that would be: Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy -- those are the individuals who are still at large, although local police did tell reporters earlier they thought there was a possibility -- they had reason to believe that the remaining two were nearby. At this point, there are no confirmed citings that they have been cited in this area or that they remain in this area near Colorado Springs, Colorado. There's been an evacuation of local offices. Six schools have been closed, and people have been told to stay inside, because they do not know where these two remaining escapees are, and they are very concerned about that. We want to return now to coverage from WFAA, our affiliate in Dallas, Texas. Let's listen:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the officers with two cars across the road there making all vehicles stop and turning them either to the right or to the left, as they try to come forward. Again, many of roads in this community have been sealed off as authorities try to locate and apprehend all seven of the Texas Seven. Again, four, maybe five in custody. They are still looking for two individuals, as near as we can tell. They're going to be holding a news conference in just a few minutes -- they will also be holding a news conference in Huntsville, of course.

That's where our Mary Ann Razzuk is now -- Mary Ann.

MARY ANN RAZZUK, WFAA REPORTER: Well, John, I should tell you, one point to make -- all along we have known that law enforcement officers identified two additional blood samples in the get-away car back from December 24. There were three blood samples in that car; one that was identified or linked to Aubrey Hawkins and then two additional ones; that they suspected belonged to two of the escapees.

Now, law enforcement officials will being looking at the fact that, with two escapees unaccounted for, the question will be, then, are those the two that were possibly injured and are they in the Colorado area or somewhere else? All along they wondered -- they didn't know how serious the injuries were, although they did say there was a lot of blood in that getaway car. They suspected that one was likely a minor injury, but one was probably more serious, based on the amount of the blood found in the front seat of that getaway car. So, again, those two are unaccounted for.

We are still continuing to get information that Larry Harper is, in fact, the escapee who is barricaded inside that mobile home. We have not gotten any information yet; we are expecting Larry Fitzgerald, the prison spokesperson as well as David Tull, the Irving police spokesperson to hold this press conference and update us on some of the facts and information since this thing has evolved since late yesterday. But again, we've not heard from -- there's an updated press conference at this time.

Again, they're all being very careful. Minimal information coming out, so this is still an ongoing operation. A lot of high- powered weapons involved, and with so many unknown variables, they want to make sure they get out of this without any additional officers being injured. I should tell you, there is a large contingent in force of federal, state, local agents, as well as Texas Rangers on their way to that Colorado area to assist with this investigation and hopefully bring some closure to this month-long process -- John.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reward for the Texas Seven Mary Ann, I understand, had gone all the way up to $500,000 and this, in fact, had been the main story of the Fox broadcast, "America's Most Wanted." Have you heard that?

RAZZUK: Absolutely. It did peak up to a half of a million dollars, and I should tell you, some law enforcement officers were actually a bit concerned that the amount was getting so high, that it might work against them; that may be somebody out there who would want to turn them in -- a known accomplice or an associate would wait for the money to get higher, but as it turns out, this tip apparently came from a television viewer who saw it on the Fox program and called this tip in, we understand, at least several days ago.

Law enforcement officials began working this like they have all of the other hundreds of tips and leads; and as you have seen from the television news reports, they have traveled to New York City, to Florida, all over the country, following up on each and every tip -- and gave each one as much importance as the other. Nothing was looked at less than the other and they traveled the country, and apparently, this particular tip started off like all other tips. But in this particular case, they were able to locate the escapees and here we are today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mary Ann, let's go -- you have been following this since it first began back on December 13th. I understand how we have now Kevin Dougherty of the Woodland Park Police -- we have some information that comes from him in the form of sound. Let's listen to what he has to say:

KEVIN DOUGHERTY, WOODLAND PARK POLICE: In the Coachlight area and the fourth one was taken from the motor home area of...

Again, that's a police officer of the Woodland Park Police Department. I didn't hear much of that myself, and we will try to get that rewound and get that information back to you in just a second.

Mary Ann, are you with us, Mary Ann?

RAZZUK: I am, John.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let's go back to the beginning of all of this. There was some...

CHEN: All right. CNN is interrupting coverage that you have been watching from WFAA in Dallas -- the situation involving the Texas Seven.

We want to go now to Colorado. A situation unfolding in Woodland Park, Colorado. A figure familiar to those of us here at CNN, Rick Sallinger, a reporter for KCNC-TV in Denver, joining us now with the information that he has received -- updated information from the local authorities in Woodland Park, Colorado -- Rick.

RICK SALLINGER, KCNC-TV REPORTER, The question that was posed is, where are the other two? Do you have any ideas?

DOUGHERTY: At this point in time, we don't have any idea where the other two are. We are not sure if the other two -- that maybe they are in the motor home itself. We don't have any reports that they were even in the area from any of the witnesses prior.

SALLINGER: Can you give us any indication of how the tip came to you, other than it was through the FBI?

DOUGHERTY: Basically, that is how we got knowledge of it. That they had gathered some information, that they may be in our area, and some of their tips came from -- may be in the Coachlight area, and then we were in contact with the individuals at the Coachlight, who then looked at several photos, and said, you know, they believed that they may be those individuals in this motor home, and that's kind of how it all started, and that happened sometime late yesterday.

SALLINGER: How long do you think that these escapees may have been in your area?

DOUGHERTY: We believe that they have been in our area for well over a week.

SALLINGER: What gives you that indication?

DOUGHERTY: Because they checked into the motor -- or into the trailer park and the individual that runs it said, yes, they are here.

SALLINGER: All right. What is happening, as far as negotiations go with the 5th person, Larry Halprin, who is believed to be in that motor home.

DOUGHERTY: The last report I have is that he still is held up in the motor home. They are -- the FBI has some hostage negotiators here, and they are trying to talk him out of the motor home itself.

SALLINGER: Have there been any shots fired at all?

DOUGHERTY: I keep hearing that report; however, I can't confirm that at this time, anyway, until I get back on the horn and I will find out if we have anything going on up that way.

SALLINGER: A lot of people may be watching us right now who live in the Woodland Park area, or who have the relatives here. What is the status of the residents in this town?

DOUGHERTY: Basically, the area down here by the Coachlight, folks need to be, of course, cautious and they always need to be cautious, you know, anytime that you have a situation like this, but -- we asked folks, that if they see anything very suspicious, to please call their local law enforcement agency, and report if they see any suspicious individuals that do not normally frequent their area.

SALLINGER: We see the roadblock behind us. Is the town shut off?

DOUGHERTY: Basically, it's not. This is a north/south little route right here, and we are diverting people on a frontage road around this particular area.

SALLINGER: All right. You have some photos here?

DOUGHERTY: Yes, I do. We have photos of the five individuals that are currently in the area, four of them are in custody. These four gentlemen here and this individual here is the individual that we are negotiating with at this time.

SALLINGER: And that is Larry Harper. He apparently has been serving 50 years for aggravated sexual assault in prison, and I believe that is one of the less severe of the crimes, if you can use that characterization at all -- you have a number of murderers that have you taken into custody.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, we do. Several of them have been in there for life of capital murder and life for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, and another murder -- doing 50 years as a murderer, and 30 years as injury to a child. And yes, we do have four individuals that are extremely dangerous and we do have them in custody, and working with the fifth one and looking for the sixth and seventh.

CHEN: All right. CNN watching coverage from KCNC, our affiliate in Denver, Colorado, of the events unfolding in Woodland Park, Colorado. A local reporter for KCNC, Rick Sallinger, speaking with a local police officer of Woodland Park about the latest information that they are getting. Woodland Park, as you see, is a community very close to Colorado Springs -- about 14 miles outside of Colorado Spring in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. You see that they have closed off some of the roads in this area -- there is still a great deal of concern, because two of the individuals thought to be part of the Texas Seven remain at large. And the local authorities did say that they have reason to believe that they might still be nearby, but they have not confirmed any sightings or any reported sightings in the area of the two individuals, who are still thought to be at large: that would be Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy.

The other five; here's the rundown on that: four of those individuals have been arrested by authorities in Woodland Park, Colorado, including George Rivas, who is thought to be the ringleader of this group, and Joseph Garcia, who is thought to be his right hand first lieutenant involved in this breakout from the maximum security facility in Texas back in mid-December. The other individuals: Michael Rodriguez and Randy Halprin also captured by authorities there in Colorado this afternoon.

And Larry Harper is the man who authorities say, they are still negotiating with, still trying to get him to come out of the mobile home that he has barricaded himself in. Now, in this latest interview that we just saw with officer Kevin Dougherty of the Woodland Park Police, a KCNC reporter heard that they do believe, still, that these two individual are at large and there is concern, because these men have reportedly in the park according to Woodland Park Police for over a week now. That is when they came in and rented this facility which is part of the Coachlight Recreational Vehicle Park there in Woodland Park, Colorado.

We will continue our coverage -- live coverage here on CNN. We have been standing by for 45 minutes now -- we have been waiting for a live news conference from the Texas Board of Corrections in Huntsville, Texas and we have been standing by and waiting for their news report -- they're supposed to brief reporters there in Huntville and the cameras have been standing by, as are we.



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