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TRINIDAD, Texas – What is believed to be the longest standoff in American history has come to a quiet end.
In 1999, John Joe Gray, 66, was arrested after allegedly assaulting a Texas State Police trooper during a traffic stop, WFAA reports.
When Gray didn’t show up to court to face the charges, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Gray and his family then armed themselves and refused to leave his 47-acre property.
“If they come out after us, bring extra body bags. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” Gray told ABC News in a 2000 interview.
For nearly 15 years, Gray and his family patrolled the property and refused to let strangers inside.
Gray’s supporters dropped off food and supplies for him and his family, the Dallas Morning News reports.
“My nature is to want to go out there and get him every day I’ve been in office, but then you got to start weighing the lives that might be lost over this,” Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt told the newspaper.
“It wasn’t worth it,” Sheriff Nutt told WFAA. “Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself, in my opinion, for 14 years.”
Gray’s standoff technically ended in Dec. 2014 when the district attorney dismissed the felony assault charge against Gray.
But, according to WFAA, no one notified the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office or the Gray family until last week.
“I didn’t do that to concede victory to that guy,” Douglas Lowe, who was the district attorney at the time, told the Dallas Morning News. “It had been going on for 15 years, and somebody just had to make a decision that it was time to say it’s over.”
Sheriff Nutt expressed relief upon hearing the standoff was over.
“The decision not to go in feels more like the right decision now,” the sheriff said. “He actually could walk out tomorrow and be a free man. We ain’t got nothing to arrest him for. He’s no longer a fugitive.”