CRAWFORD, Texas – Larry Mattlage has had enough.

He’s tired of all the commotion at the anti-war camp across the road from his ranch house. He wants all the cars out of his ditch, and the anti-war protesters, the pro-war demonstrators and the media to leave.

So, he’s closed the iron gate to his small spread outside of town and posted “Sorry, We’re Closed,” and “Help Wanted” signs. And on Sunday morning, as Cindy Sheehan and a small gathering of other anti-war supporters prepared for a worship service, he stood in his goat pasture and fired a shotgun into the air.

“I’m getting ready for dove season,” he said when reporters pressed him. “I’m practicing.”

His message, though, was unmistakable as he talked on.

“These neighbors out here are upset,” he said. “I don’t want nobody getting hurt. I just want them to pack the damn tents and go where they came from.”

Within minutes of his shotgun blast, sheriff’s deputies and Secret Service agents, who protect President Bush at his nearby ranch, rushed in. And McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said he told Mattlage to exercise some restraint.

“He’s on his own property,” Lynch said. But he warned that Mattlage can’t just “shoot across the road.”

“Everyone needs to use restraint in this situation out here,” the sheriff said.

Sheehan’s son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in the war last year, and she and other families met with the president a couple of months later at Fort Lewis, Wash. Now, she’s seeking a new meeting, she says, to confront him on what she sees as an unjust war.

“It is disruptive,” Sheehan acknowledged after Mattlage’s complaints about the camp. “But George Bush is the one who caused the disruption, not us.”

The White House had no comment Sunday, referring inquiries to local law enforcement authorities.

“Look,” said Mattlage, who has a longstanding deal with NBC News for a view from his spread of the president’s ranch, “when they first came out here, I was sympathetic to their cause. They, as American citizens, have a right to march and to protest.”

But “they’re just like company,” he concluded. “If you had had your brother-in-law in your house for five days, wouldn’t it start stinking after a while?”



(c) 2005, The Dallas Morning News.

Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at http://www.dallasnews.com/


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.