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| Crime |

Texas Seven Hostage Tells of The Night That Would Lead to Last Week's Execution

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It was a hold-up. If any of Tim Moore's 16 coworkers at Oshman's Sporting Goods in Irving made a wrong move on Christmas Eve of 2000, someone would die. The group of men posing as ADT security personnel ordered employees to line up with their hands on the counter. They were armed, calm and gravely serious. Moore knew he might never see his 2-year-old son again; he knew his best chance at getting away was to follow instructions.

What he did not know was that the seven men holding up his store -- the same men who browsed through the aisles the night before -- were the Texas Seven, the infamous group who had only days before pulled off the biggest prison break in Texas history.

George Rivas, who was executed last week for what would follow, jumped on the counter, explaining to the store's employees how this night would go down. Moore remembers Rivas' exact words: "Don't do anything stupid. This has nothing to do with you guys. I want you all to be home for Christmas. But if I have to shoot one of you, I'll shoot all 17 of you."

Rivas and the others led the store's employees into the break room. With only one exit, it was easier to contain them there. The seven men tied up the 17 employees; it took about 20 minutes. Then they were told to get on their knees and face the wall "like they were going to execute us," Moore says.

One employee's girlfriend came to pick him up after his shift, but he never came out to the parking lot. She waited and waited, becoming increasingly suspicious until she called the police.

Officer Aubrey Hawkins answered the call, pulling up to the back door, where he faced a group of the escaped prisoners.

Moore heard shots ring out. He counted 17. He didn't know who or what they hit, he only knew that he and everyone in the room could be next.

The seven men guarded the small room of hostages only from the outside. But on the inside, there was another room -- a locked security room. And it had a phone. A coworker helped Moore untie himself, and Moore was able to take the keys from his pocket -- keys that his captors didn't bother with when they frisked the group for weapons.

He busted in and dialed 911, staying on the line with the operator while still not knowing what was happening beyond the confines of the room. The Texas Seven fled before police arrived. The SWAT team surrounded the building, finally closing in on the room of hostages and running them outside to vans that would carry them away from the scene.

Officer Hawkins had been slain, peppered with bullets, and the seven men had made off with money and guns, though Moore says they forgot to take magazines to load the guns.

Overnight into the next day, Moore kept checking to see if they were arrested. They weren't, and they wouldn't be until the following month when police caught up with them in Colorado.

Six of the Texas Seven were sentenced to death. The seventh killed himself before their arrest. Last week, Rivas became the second to be executed. Four remain.

"I still have trouble sleeping," said Moore, who went back to teaching and coaching a year later. "I don't think that they really have any idea what affect it had on any of those people."

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