Killed soldier mother keeps on protest despite shots

A woman, whose son died in Iraq, said Sunday she would continue the demonstration notwithstanding her neighbour’s gunshot blasts into the air. The demonstrators say the protest will continue three weeks more.

Larry Mattlage, who lives next to the Bush ranch where the president is spending a five week vacation, complained about the 350 protesters, media and government security officials occupying the road outside his own residence after firing a rifle into the air several times, The Daily Telegraph reports.

"Five weeks of this is too much. We live here, this is our community," Mattlage said in footage shown by CNN television, while insisting the gunshots were just him "getting ready for dove season".

"I shot at a bird, and missed it a while ago," he said.

McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said he counseled Mattlage to use 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.

"We can't give up, no matter hard it gets," said Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif. She started the protest Aug. 6 in memory of her 24-year-old son Casey, an Army specialist killed in Iraq last year.

More than 350 war protesters rallied at the site Saturday afternoon, hours after about 250 Bush supporters waved U.S. flags across the street, holding signs that said Sheehan was unpatriotic and was hurting troop morale, according to Houston Chronicle.

Sheriff's deputies have kept a presence at the demonstrators' site, and more than a dozen law enforcement cars flanked the edge of the camp Saturday to keep them and the pro-Bush rally separated.

A few from each side got into heated verbal exchanges, but no one was arrested.

Sheehan, 48, said she was not concerned with her safety but that she has told others to be aware that "this could get physical, even though we are peaceful. I think we knew of the risks when we came down here."

Sheehan, who met with two top Bush administration officials on her first day of the protest, said some of her supporters have left the campsite but that others keep arriving from across the country, Houston Chronicle reminds.

Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan but has not said if he will meet with her again. Bush met with her and her husband in June 2004.

Sherry Bohlen of Scottsdale, Ariz., drove with two friends to Crawford last week but didn't leave Sunday as planned.

"This is history in the making, and it's hard to walk away from that," said Bohlen, whose son Thor has been in Iraq for a month.

"When (the protesters) 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 said. "If you had had your brother-in-law in your house for five days, wouldn't it start stinking after a while?"

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