Gritz to Rudolph: Surrender or risk getting shot
Volunteers hope to coax bomb suspect out of woodsAugust 14, 1998
Web posted at: 2:38 p.m. EDT (1838 GMT)
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ANDREWS, North Carolina (CNN) -- Gathering volunteers who hope to persuade bombing suspect Eric Rudolph to give up, former Green Beret James "Bo" Gritz said his effort, beginning Saturday, would not conflict with federal agents searching for Rudolph in the wooded mountains of western North Carolina.
If Rudolph doesn't want to surrender on his own, his only alternative is "a bullet in the neck," Gritz (pronounced: Grites) told reporters Friday at a midday news conference in Andrews, a North Carolina community near the Nantahala National Forest where authorities are hunting for Rudolph, one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
Gritz said he had 27 volunteers and expected more to join his effort. Volunteers who met with Gritz at the Andrews Recreation Center on Friday were handed red, white and blue scarves and baseball caps so they can be readily identified when they enter the woods
"We'll have enough (volunteers to) make a very comprehensive ground search," Gritz said. "We are not looking for Eric Rudolph, but we want to be able to have him find us."
Earlier, in an interview on CNN, Gritz said he is sending volunteers into the dense Southern Appalachian forests to try to contact Rudolph and assure him that the $1 million reward for his capture would go to Rudolph's family to fund his court battles.
Rudolph "knows that we're not there to hurt him, we're there to help him," Gritz said.
But federal authorities, who have offered the reward, said there has been no agreement to give the money to Gritz if the fugitive surrenders to him.
Still, Gritz said his dealings with authorities have been friendly. "We are working in cooperation with and not in opposition to the Southeast Bomb Task Force," said Gritz.
Woody Enderson of the bomb task force said Thursday that federal agents, who are scaling their manhunt back from more than 200 officers to 80, will not interfere with Gritz's effort, even though they disapprove of it.
"We think it's a dangerous endeavor," he said, adding that Gritz never was asked to come to Andrews.
Enderson said the cutback had been anticipated if the search dragged on. He said an FBI spokeswoman had been mistaken earlier in saying the deployment of federal agents to investigate U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania had triggered the reduction.
Gritz is a leader of the so-called patriot movement, which rails against what it calls a United Nations-led "New World Order" and accuses the government of corruption and violence.
The former Green Beret colonel helped negotiate an end to the FBI siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and briefly became a mediator in the Freemen standoff in Montana in 1996.
Gritz was accompanied to Andrews by white separatist Randy Weaver, the central figure in the Ruby Ridge siege. Gritz negotiated his surrender to FBI agents that ended the 11-day standoff, which resulted in the deaths of Weaver's wife and son and a deputy U.S. marshal.
Gritz, who has a radio talk show, also made a name for himself searching for Vietnam war MIAs in Southeast Asia in the early 1980s.
He was the 1992 Populist Party presidential nominee and now travels the country conducting survival training based on his U.S. Army Special Forces experience.
Authorities asked Gritz to make his appeal to Rudolph over his daily radio shows, which they think Rudolph might hear on a short-wave radio. But Gritz, who arrived in Andrews on Thursday, decided to respond to the request in person.
Gritz said he has information from local residents about where Rudolph may be hiding and that is where he will first enter the woods on Saturday.
Rudolph, 31, has been charged in January's fatal bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, women's clinic where abortions are performed.
He also is wanted for questioning in connection with three bombings in the Atlanta area, including the fatal blast at an Atlanta park during the Olympics in July 1996.
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