By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Still, even some of the Grays' most dedicated supporters are concerned that the end result of his refusal to acknowledge the law might eventually lead to armed confrontation. Austin's anti-government radio host Alex Jones, who has interviewed John Joe Gray numerous times over the years, drove to Henderson County one night last week in an effort to persuade Gray to end the stand-off peacefully. His mission failed.
"Those people are not coming out," he later told his listeners. "If the police move in there, people are going to die. It's going to be a bloodbath on both sides. The cops are smart not to go onto that property."
Jones told of seeing sandbags piled against the Gray house and of a cellar-like bunker that had been dug to house the children in the event of a shootout. A hand-painted sign, reading "children," has been placed at the bunker's entrance.
Parsons, who also visited the Grays last week, sympathizes with their plight, but has urged that some manner of negotiation be attempted. While he admits that he has thus far had no luck in convincing Gray even to consider such a possibility, Parsons says, "I think something can be done. These people have a very basic Christian belief, and right now they feel they're placed into a position that offers no room for compromise. They absolutely will not compromise their beliefs. The whole family feels this way."
Parsons says he is probably the only person the Grays trust. "They may not agree with everything I have to say, but they will listen to me," he says. He says he stands ready to serve as the negotiator on the Grays' behalf and would "entertain a call from law enforcement."
Does Alicia Gray feel that a negotiated settlement is possible? "You don't deal with the devil," she says.
And with that she turned to join several of her heavily armed children waiting in a nearby Jeep. They headed back down a sandy loam road, away from the outside world they wholeheartedly distrust. In the dust, the dog, oblivious to the tense world in which it now lives, happily trotted behind.