Originally created 02/08/02

FBI, police capture escaped Texas inmates in Oklahoma



ARDMORE, Okla. - A 6 1/2 -hour standoff between authorities and Texas jail escapees Curtis Gambill and Joshua Bagwell ended peacefully Thursday when the pair released a convenience store owner they had been holding hostage and then surrendered without a fight.

Richard Marquise, FBI Special Agent In Charge in Oklahoma, said it appeared the two spent most of the time inside the store filling their stomachs.

"They probably ate more food then than they had eaten during the past week," he said. "They were enjoying their last hours of freedom before going to prison for the rest of their lives."

At 4 a.m., the two convicted murderers told negotiators they would surrender at 4:30 a.m. They kept their word. First they released store owner George West, 65, unharmed, and within minutes, in single file, they walked into the parking lot.

Police said Mr. Gambill and Mr. Bagwell started their stand-off about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday when they took Mr. West hostage and held him inside the store when they realized their accomplices Christal Gale Soto and Charles Jordan had been taken into custody in the parking lot by a local FBI agent and a Carter County sheriff's deputy.

The officers had received a tip that the escapees might be there, said Gary Johnson, a spokesman for the FBI in Oklahoma City.

Mr. Soto came out of the store and gave up. But Mr. Gambill and Mr. Bagwell refused to come out of the store.

"A very skilled local agent started talks with them," Agent Marquise said.

"There was discussion about hunting and fishing and what life was in prison," he added. "They didn't ask for a million dollars."

Sightseers lined Carter Street as members of Ardmore Police Department's Special Response Team and federal tactical team began moving into position. Long hours of negotiations with the two followed.

Mr. Gambill and Mr. Bagwell were armed with one handgun and had access to a number of other guns inside the store.

Mr. Gambill had on previous occasions claimed he would not be taken alive, but made no such threats during the long hours of talks.

Mr. Bagwell's mother, Cherese Bagwell, a former attorney for the city of Lawton, arrived near the scene of the standoff in the hours before her son surrendered. Chief Garrett said the mother was not allowed to speak with her son, and she was not used as a negotiation tool.