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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Texas Police Find Explosives Around Secessionist Refuge

FORT DAVIS, Texas -- Richard McLaren and his small band of secessionist followers apparently were prepared to send approaching state police to fiery deaths. Investigators said they have discovered as many as 60 pipe bombs, tripwires and other explosives ringing the group's mountain headquarters.

The "booby traps'' have thwarted the continuing search for two Republic of Texas men who fled at midday Saturday with high-powered weapons as state authorities were negotiating the surrender of McLaren, the group's self-styled ambassador, and three other members, Mike Cox, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Sunday.

Richard Frank Keyes III, 21, of Kansas, who called himself a lieutenant, and Mike Matson, about whom authorities admit they know little, disappeared separately into the rugged canyons of the Davis Mountains.

Authorities saw them flee but did not immediately pursue them for fear of threatening negotiations for the peaceful surrender of the others.

On Saturday, before surrendering, McLaren and his group laid down their arms, including 10 hunting and semiautomatic rifles and 500 to 700 rounds of ammunition.

For the first time, Cox also shed light on the scope of the week-long standoff between state authorities and McLaren's group. He said 300 police officers and an additional 200 support people were involved in the siege that began April 27 when three Republic of Texas members shot their way into a neighbor couple's home and took them hostage for 12 hours.

Cox's early descriptions of the headquarters where the group remained hidden provided a chilling look into their preparations.