Norris defusing Gray standoff
By 11/02/2000 00:00:00
Ellis County Press Managing Editor
FERRIS - The armed standoff involving the John Joe Gray family sure could use a hero, someone to ride in and defuse the issues before the tense atmosphere explodes in gunfire.
That only happens in movies or on TV.
But there was Walker, Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris on Oct. 19, strolling from a helicopter squarely into the role of just such a mediator. With Norris came lawyers who reportedly achieved progress toward a resolution of the stalemate.
'I offered to provide the family with representation at no cost to them, to which they agreed,' Norris said in a statement to the Ellis County Press.
'I'm pleased to report that, at present, significant progress has been made in resolving the case,' Norris announced, 'and my attorneys are continuing to work closely with local and state officials to bring it to a peaceful and equitable solution in the very near future.'
Infowars.com covered the Oct. 19 meeting at its website, displaying photos of Norris talking with John Joe and Alicia Gray along with an on-the-scenes report from Ed Hohmann. Pictures show Norris' attorneys meeting with John Joe Gray.
'A week ago I was asked by Deputy Constable John Cullins to assist him in his efforts to peacefully resolve the situation with John Joe Gray and his family,' Norris said in the statement dated Oct. 27.
'After alerting representatives of the FBI as well as state law enforcement officials of this request, they also agreed that my involvement might help ease tensions and create new channels of communication in this 10-month standoff,' Norris said.
'I then met with Mr. Gray and his family on their farm,' he said. 'During the course of our meeting, it became clear to me that the lack of proper legal representation for the family has been a major factor in creating the stalemate.'
Hohmann's account echoes Norris and adds additional details: 'When actor Chuck Norris heard about the plight of John Joe Gray and his family in Trinidad, he immediately wanted to help,' Hohmann wrote. 'Deputy Constable John Cullins, a long-time friend of Mr. Norris, has been facilitating the negotiations with Mr. Gray.
'Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 17, during a break in the filming of Walker, Texas Ranger, Deputy Cullins discussed Joe Gray's situation with Chuck Norris. Mr. Norris made immediate plans to drive out to the Gray family farm Wednesday afternoon to meet personally with Mr. Gray,' Hohmann reported.
After meeting with Gray for 'about two hours,' Norris reportedly called his lawyers and arranged to fly them out to the Gray's farm the following morning, according to the online account.
Hohmann also reported the meetings with the Gray family and Doug Lowe, the prosecutor in the case, have 'already made significant progress.'
Although the 'Walker, Texas Ranger' film crew worked in Ferris this past week, Norris was out of town and unavailable for comment on his visit with the Grays or Hohmann's account, except through his statement.
John Joe Gray has a warrant out for his arrest from Anderson County for assault and disarming a police officer. Gray contends the charges are bogus.
Following an incident last December, the Grays have refused to leave their property near Cedar Creek Lake near Trinidad.
Gray's daughter, Lisa has custody of two children a court decision has given to the father, Keith Tarkington. Lisa claims she has never been served papers to yield the children.
'The Grays have said again and again they simply want to be left alone to live their lives peacefully,' according to John Parsons, who visited with the family on behalf of the Ellis County Press after the standoff began.
'Those who know them say the Grays are not the type of people portrayed by some media,' Parsons reported. 'They have stated a willingness to negotiate on matters not concerning constitutional rights and Biblical law.'
From behind the barbed wire, Parsons delivered a press release written by Alicia Gray, John Joe's wife. The Ellis County Press carried excerpts from the press release and put its contents online.
The Amadea Film Productions crew was in Ferris Friday and earlier this week to shoot scenes for a Walker, Texas Ranger episode titled 'Desperate Measures.' It is tentatively scheduled to air during December.
The crew filmed scenes on Fifth, and Sixth Streets around Ferris' Town Square. Action centered around Bea's Cafe where outside and inside scenes were filmed.
Several Ferris and area residents were used as background extras in the filming, which is the practice for the popular Saturday night TV show as it films around North Central Texas.