A reclusive West Odessa, Texas, man with ties to an antigovernment group allegedly shot and wounded two Ector County sheriff’s deputies and a private citizen on Friday during a 22-hour long standoff at his home. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the shooter, Victor Dewayne White, has connections to white supremacist organizations and links to the antigovernment Republic of Texas (ROT), which claims that Texas is a sovereign nation that was never legally annexed by the United States.
This is certainly not the first time that someone with ROT ties has engaged in an armed standoff. In 1997, the then-head of ROT, Richard McLaren, initiated a six-day standoff with hundreds of Texas Rangers after his followers kidnapped a neighbor couple at gunpoint. One man was killed in the ensuing gun battle and McLaren was ultimately sentenced to 111 years in prison for his role.
Another longtime ROT supporter, John Joe Gray, has been holed up on his property near Trinadad, Texas, for the past decade. Gray’s standoff was precipitated by an arrest during a traffic stop in 1999 for biting a Texas trooper’s hand and trying to steal another trooper’s gun. After posting bail in the case, Gray retreated to his compound and sent a letter to the authorities, the gist of which was, if your deputies come onto my property, bring body bags.
The standoff began Friday afternoon after Luke Bedrick, who works for an oil company, went to White’s property with Deputy Ricky Tijerina and Sgt. Steve McNeil. Bedrick was there to access an oil well that the company owns rights to. White began firing and struck all three men, who nevertheless managed to retreat.
Before moving to a fortified position, White climbed inside a sheriff’s vehicle and began to taunt officers. “He got on the radio and basically was spouting off things about the deputies and law enforcement, making political and religious statements and making comments urging the snipers to make him a martyr,” DPS spokesman John Barton told the Odessa American.
During the nearly day-long standoff, White sporadically opened fire on law enforcement helicopters and officers from a large dirt mound that contained trenches, bunkers and fighting positions. The dirt barricade, which had a white cross and flagpole on top, was built near the trailer where White lived with no utility connections on a piece of property that covers several acres.
White surrendered as SWAT team members in an armored vehicle closed in on him outside his trailer. White was booked at the Midland County jail for aggravated assault against a public servant. The two deputies who were injured Friday were listed in stable condition at a local hospital. Bedrick, the third shooting victim, was treated and released Friday evening, hospital officials said.