A spokesman for the militia group holed up at an Oregon wildlife refuge was shot and killed and members of the infamous Bundy clan arrested in a confrontation with federal agents as they were driving to a meeting many miles away from the compound.
The FBI then set up roadblocks around the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters and told the remaining protesters there that they were free to go. But the Oregonian reported that just a few people occupying the buildings, including men, women and children, had so far taken the feds up on their offer.
Among those still in the compound is the wife of Ammon Bundy, who was arrested along with six others as the group was headed north toward the town of John Day.
“At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During that arrest, there were shots fired,” the Portland office of the FBI said in a statement.
“One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased. We will not be releasing any information about that person pending identification by the medical examiner’s office.”
The daughter of Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum told media that he was the man who was killed.
“The people are starting to rise up. They’re starting to say the federal government – you’re our servant. You’re not our masters,” Finicum said on a blog radio program Monday. “We’re saying, federal government, you do not rule with impunity. You get your Fish and Game and Wildlife out of here….We will not stand by and let this travesty go on.”
One many who said he was in convoy stopped on the highway, Mark McConnell, posted a video on Facebook describing his view of the incident. McConnell said Finicum tried to flee the scene with other occupants including an 18-year-old girl in his truck.
“LaVoy was actually rather heated,” McConnell said, who added that the rancher was “very passionate” and he admired him. “He charged after law enforcement” after his truck got stuck in the snow and got out, McConnell said. “He was not on his knees, none of that… he went after them.”
“All the people they picked up are original people who took over the refuge,” he added, describing a couple hours of questioning from authorities before “they cut me loose.”
Arrested in the highway stop were Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier of Bunkerville, Nev, Shawna Cox of Kanab, Utah, and Ryan Waylen Payne of Anaconda, Mont., the FBI said. Ryan Bundy was wounded during the confrontation, treated and released from the hospital. Cox and Payne were also in Finicum’s vehicle.
Over an hour after that confrontation, Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy of Cottonwood, Ariz., and Peter Santilli of Cincinnati were arrested “without incident” in Burns, Ore.
All face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, said the FBI.
Later, in Arizona, Jon Ritzheimer turned himself in to authorities. Ritzheimer had driven up to Oregon quickly after the Jan. 2 occupation started to join what he believed could be an epic standoff with the government. He declared at the time, “I am 100 percent willing to lay my life down to fight against tyranny in this country.”
“I came home to visit my family. The Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in. I need an attorney so I can get back to my girls. Please help my family,” Ritzheimer posted on his Facebook account last night.
The FBI said the arrest of Ritzheimer “was without incident.”
Gary Hunt, a member of the Operation Mutual Defense militia network who arrived at the compound from California on Sunday, told media that most of the people at the refuge headquarters “have decided they’re going to hold their ground,” the Oregonian reported.