An exhumed body, 77 acres of land and control of the Branch Davidian - Seventh Day Adventist Association Church occasioned a small scale battle Tuesday.
One man was injured.
McLennan County Sheriff's deputies arrested eight men clad in camouflage fatigues and confiscated more than a dozen firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition during the shooting near Rodenville, just off Farm-to-Market Road 2491 about 10 miles northeast of Waco.'
Sheriff's deputies responded to the shooting at 3:36 p.m., a sheriff's department spokesman said. The nine sheriff's united were assisted by two Department of Public Safety units.
"We got a report of a shooting, came out here ... and we began gathering people up," McLennan County Sheriff's Capt. Dan Weyenberg said.
A sheriff's department spokesman said the eight men were in McLennan County Jail charged with attempted murder. Bond was set at $50,000 each by Justice of the Peace Alan Mayfield.
Deputies seized an arsenal of more than 12 weapons, including a machine gun, .357 Magnums, semi-automatic rifles, and loads of ammunition, Weyenberg said, adding that, "I don't think you can take a patrol out in Vietnam with that much ammo."
George Roden, 49, underwent treatment for power burns and a wound in the right hand in the emergency room of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center late Tuesday and later was released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Roden, the president of the Davidians and a former U.S. presidential candidate, lives on the 77-acre community called Rodenville Branch Center.
About 10 families live in the community, and there are reportedly about 500 members worldwide, Roden said.
The group has not paid any property taxes since 1968 and owes McLennan County $49,175.85 and the Axtell Independent School District $22,849.99 - a total of $62,660.84.
A man who approached reporters at the scene an identified himself as Perry Jones, secretary of the Executive Council of the Branch Davidians, claimed that Roden had taken over the 77-acre area from Jones and his wife and other families, by force in 1985.
Jones said Roden had exhumed the body of a female church member from its gravesite and was holding it in the Branch Davidian church in Rodenville trying to resurrect her.
Jones showed the media pictures of a coffin drapped with an Israeli flag, adorned by the Star of David, that jones said were taken inside the Branch Davidian church at Rodenville.
The coffin and body were nowhere to be found Tuesday, Jones said.
The eight men arrested were Branch Davidian members, Jones said, who were trying to get proof that the woman's body had been in the church and were protecting themselves on the land that was "originally theirs in the first place," Jones said.
Roden, Jones said, lived on the property illegally in violation of a court order from 19th State District Court Judge Bill Logue.
"Perry Jones came to see me a couple of weeks ago and that was the first time I had seen him in a couple of years ... I visited with Jones and an attorney briefly and we mostly reminisced" Logue said Tuesday night.
"This law suit over the ownership of that land started in 1966, 21 years ago ... A couple of years ago, I held that only a portion of the land was exempt," Logue said.
"Other than that," Logue said, "I put George under a restraining order years ago when he was after his mother." At the time, Lois Roden, George Roden's mother, was being represented by Lyndon Olson, he added.
170th District Court Judge Joe Johnson said, "I recently granted a couple of taxing authorities as summary judgment for back taxes on the acreage that belongs to the Davidian branch that was declared not to be exempt from religious activities."
The matter still is in the appellate court, Johnson added.
Donald Williams, a maintenance man working for Roden, said that during the shooting he heard someone say "you better not be shooting at anyone but George. Don't shoot the other guy."
Gunfire exchange between Roden and the eight men took place for about 45 minutes until sheriff's deputies arrived, Williams said. At that point deputies got out of their vehicles, "disarmed Roden and myself first, and ordered the other eight to drop their weapons," Williams said.
Each family in Rodenville received threatening letters earlier in the week, stamped restricted delivery, and signed by Vernon Howell, William said.
During a telephone interview Tuesday night, Roden said the casket was in the church because the cemetery was being moved to the back of the property. But, after removing the first casket, they were unable to use some John Deere equipment they had been allowed to use.
Roden said they put the casket in the church out of respect until they could continue moving the cemetery site. While the chapel had to be used for services, the casket was moved to a storage building, he added.
Roden said he believes the real reason the men came to Rodenville was to execute Chapter 9 of the Book of Ezekiel in the Bible. "They think it is the holy war they have to wage against everybody."
Roden said he thinks the eight men are terrorists and connected with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Roden said he asked for protection from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General's office. "They just told me to wear bulletproof vests," he said.
Roden, who sought the Democrat nomination for president in 1976, said he was going to launch a presidential campaign at the end of this month or next month.
The Branch Davidian group still holds the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but their interpretation of the coming of Earthly Kingdom is at odds with the Seventh-day Adventists' teaching.
Officials of the Seventh-day Adventist Church say their organization is not connected with the Branch Davidians.
During the late 1970s, the Branch Davidians consisted of some 20,000 to 30,000 members.