Hostage Stand Off in Snake River
SNAKE RIVER, April 26, 2013 - A family violence confrontation between Jesse Pilgreen, a 36 year old resident of Batson, Texas and his girl friend, Crystal Lafrance, 38 year old resident of the South Liberty Oil Fields in Liberty county culminated in a “stand off” between Pilgreen and several law enforcement agencies. The call which came in to the Sheriff’s dispatcher at 3:10pm put into motion a cooperative effort on the part of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Ranger Frank Huff and Pct. 3 Deputy Constable Mark Davison
Sheriff’s Department personnel which included Capt. Don Neyland and Capt. Mark Ellington who acted as the negotiators under the direction of Sheriff Bobby Rader attempted to talk Pilgreen into surrendering after he ran into a two story abandoned house located in the 300 block of CR 2550 in the Snake River Sub Division. While both Pilgreen and Lafrance were in the house, Crystal Lafrance managed to escape from Pilgreen and was taken to a point of safety away from the scene by law enforcement.
During the following three hours of continuous negotiations, Pilgreen made threats towards law enforcement personnel who had the house surrounded. Jesse Pilgreen threatened that “…law enforcement is going to get hurt if they try to take me..” and other threats of taking his own life if he was rushed by law enforcement. Although he never displayed a firearm, he insinuated that he was armed and would do harm to himself or Officers if they did not allow him to see his girl friend to assure that she was alright. This request was denied.
Pilgreen’s attitude fluctuated between a calm demeanor to being outraged and upset. At one point, his phone was “patched” into the Liberty County Sheriff’s dispatcher’s office where Dispatcher Sherry Walton very calmly was able to defuse his aggressive outburst and return him to a more rational attitude to continue negotiations with Capt. Ellington and Capt. Neyland.
After it appeared Pilgreen was not going to surrender, a search warrant process was put into motion and the Montgomery County SWAT unit was requested to respond. A short time later, Pilgreen modified his request to at least speak to Crystal Lafrance on the telephone and if he could do that, he would surrender to authorities. Capt. Ellington authorized this request with the clear understanding that if this request was granted, Pilgreen would, in fact, surrender his weapons and come out peacefully. Arrangements were made for the phone call and after Pilgreen talked to his girl friend, he told authorities he would be coming out to surrender.
Before he surrendered, Jesse Pilgreen threw four (4) pocket knives out and then walked out and surrendered without further incident. No firearms were found.
Jesse Pilgreen has a criminal history and presently is in the Liberty County Jail charged with “Assault Family Violence”, a third degree felony. No bond has been set at this point.
This was a very tense and dangerous three hour stand off and Sheriff Rader, who was on the scene during the entire event, extended his sincere appreciation for the professionalism and cooperation demonstrated by his own departments personnel as well as the Ranger and the Deputy Constable from Pct. 3. It is felt that by the calm handling of this sensitive situation, it resulted in a resolution where no one was injured or killed.