Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Sunday, May 28, 1978

During Caddo Gunbattle...

Teen Credited For Saving Children

CADDO - Lori Nave, 18, is a very brave girl. She's credited with saving three small children from the hail of bullets that erupted just across the street from her home at 503 Court street Friday during the shootout between state troopers and escapees Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster.

"I was watching tv when I heard sirens, and a plane overhead," she said. "I looked out the door and saw a blue pickup drive by and pull into the Slacks' driveway. Then a patrol car came by and the shooting started.

"All I could think of was that my two brothers were playing up the street right where the shooting was going on."

She screamed for them to come home and ran from the house and up the street to get them.

"My brother Kevin ran into the house ahead of me. I grabbed the two little ones, Wade, and my niece Lavonna and took them in and made them lie down flat on the floor in the hallway.

"I was really scared, I looked over my shoulder while running across the yard and saw the troopers open fire on those two. Then the trooper fell into the street. Somehow when I looked back he was pulled back in the car and the car had stopped at the end of the block. The other officer was shooting back at Dennis and them.

"I didn't know at the time that the officer had been killed when I saw him fall."

"I'm not sure just what happened then; I looked out the window in my mother's bedroom and watched the troopers shooting, I couldn't see the convicts-there's too much brush between our house and where they were."

"It couldn't have lasted long, we were really scared, but I'm glad it is over."

An officer came to the front door of the Nave home just after the shooting stopped and checked to see if they were allright.

In a matter of minutes after the shooting died down, 50 state and county officers had arrived from roadblock assignments farther west.

Fearful someone might have been hurt, some began a door-to-door check of the neighborhood in Southwest Caddo while others began easing the curious away and securing the "crime scene."

The patrol's internal affairs division - one of the dead troopers, Pat Grimes was a member of it - and crime bureau agents were to spend over an hour completing their investigation.

Saturday, the street in Caddo was still busy. People are coming by the scene of the shootout in droves. License tags were spotted from as far away as Nebraska, New Mexico and Arkansas. Residents feel, as one put, "Maybe we should sell tickets."

The Slacks packed up their bullet-riddled camp trailer, and fixed the flat tire, punctured by a stray bullet and went on vacation.

"Mrs. Slack said she just couldn't stay in that house for a few days and they were not going to talk to all those people that kept stopping by." Miss Nave said.

Some of the neighbors planned to go over to the Slack house and hose off the bloodstains in the yard with water, and clean up the street before the Slacks come home.

John Bussey, Caddo, and his brother James Bussey, Atoka, stopped by early Saturday and wandered around the yard, looking at the scene and counting bullet holes in the boat and side of the house.

Is A Shame
"It is just a damn shame that the troopers were killed, the main blame for the whole thing belongs on the shoulders of the state pen officials," John Bussey said. "If their security was as good as they say it is there wouldn't have been something like 108 escapes the past year.

"One of those guys that's running for governor has said if the warden or one of the guards let a prisoner escape, He'll make them do time for the convicted until he is apprehended. That might be a way to stop escapes from that place."

Katherine Dennis, Claude's former wife, said she only wants to see him buried.

"I still feel something for him, you can't have three children by a man and not feel something no matter what he's done."

"There was something wrong with him - I'm not sure what, but maybe this is the best way for it to end."

She told authorities earlier she was not going to run just because he had escaped.

"I don't have the money, and I just am not going to run."

When she heard the news she took the children - Dale 13, Tammy 11, and Shana 10 - and went to her brother's house in Silo.

I just didn't want them to hear the news on the radio," she said. "I guess they will want to go to the funeral, I don't know whether I'll go or not."

She divorced Dennis about a year and a half ago. She bought a mobile home in Caddo and has been working at a store in Durant to make the payments and to support herself and her children.

The bodies of Dennis and Lancaster were taken to the Murray Funeral home, where they later were checked by a state crime bureau agent. They were picked up about 5:30 p.m. Friday by prison officials and taken to McAlester.

Mrs. Addie Salladay, 83, was working in her garden when the shooting started. Like the others, she didn’t know what was going on at the time.

“Those two in the pickup drove up just like they lived in the house. I thought it might be the Slacks coming home early – they both work.

“When the other car drove up then the shooting started. I got scared. They shot I don’t know how many times. It seemed that there were a hundred guns going off all at once,” she said.

“I saw the policemen come up and when they saw the pickup the shooting started. It was coming from every direction; it was coming from every angle. So many, many guns went off at one time … The men were trapped right there. "They kept firing for quite awhile,” she said of the officers.

“Mercy, I thought ‘There’s no telling what’s going to happen.’ I’m so nervous now I’m just jerking inside.”

She said she had not been off her porch since the shooting. “I’m too scared,” she said.

“Half of Texas has been up here,” she said. “This whole end of town has just been swarmed with people.”

Jeff Robbins, long-time Caddo resident, said, “It’s one helluva price to pay for two like that. It takes a really big man to pin on a Highway Patrol badge. Few can fill the shoes.

“I know that the people of Caddo appreciate what they sacrificed for us, and we won’t ever forget it.”