BURNS, Ore. (AP) – Several members of an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon are in custody and one of them is dead.
Militant leader Ammon Bundy, his brother and three others were arrested yesterday during a traffic stop that prompted gunfire, killing Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, according to the Oregonian newspaper.
The group was driving to a community meeting 70 miles from the refuge. Three others in the group were arrested separately. There’s no word on who is still inside the refuge.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy along with five other members of the group were booked into Multnomah County Jail early Wednesday morning.
One person died and 8 were arrested after the FBI and the Oregon State Police intercepted the group along Highway 395.
The militants were heading to a community meeting in John Day when they were confronted by authorities.
Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State Police and other authorities made the stop. It is unclear who opened fire first. Militia spokesperson LaVoy Finicum was killed during the arrest.
The FBI and OSP made the following arrests: Ammon Bundy, 40, from Emmett, Idaho; Ryan Bundy, 43, from Bunkerville, Nevada; Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Shawna Cox, 59, Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana.
A sixth person, 45-year-old Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy of Cottonwood, Arizona, was arrested by OSP in a separate incident in Burns, officials said.
Law enforcement will hold a press conference at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. KOIN 6 News will be live streaming the event here.
Who remains at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge
It was unclear how many people remained in the buildings at the refuge. Late Tuesday night there was no obvious police presence there and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked for “patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”
Early Wednesday, the FBI and Oregon State Police established a series of checkpoints along key routes into and out refuge. The agencies said in a statement that the containment was to ‘better ensure the safety of community members.” According to the statement, only Harney County ranchers who own property in specific areas will be required to show identification and be allowed to pass.
Brand Thornton, one of Bundy’s supporters, said he left the refuge Monday and wasn’t sure what those remaining would do.
“The entire leadership is gone,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t blame any of them for leaving.”
Thornton called the arrests “a dirty trick” by law enforcement.
The militants, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to decry what it calls onerous federal land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.
Specifically, the group wanted federal lands turned over to local authorities. The U.S. government controls about half of all land in the West. Conflicts over Western land use stretch back decades.
In the 1970s, Nevada and other states pushed for local control in what was known as the Sagebrush Rebellion. Supporters wanted more land for cattle grazing, mining and timber harvesting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
While advocating for the Hammonds’ release, the militia claimed the federal government has no jurisdiction over the Malheur refuge.
Since then, Burns residents have urged the militia to leave at a series of community meetings. Bundy and the other occupiers have repeatedly refused to do so.
More militiamen from around the country drove in truck by truck to join the cause on January 20. The heavily armed militants believe their cause is not only just, but an act of divine intervention.
Governor Brown recently spoke out against the occupation, urging the militants to leave as quickly as possible. In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News on Monday, Brown said the situation was “intolerable”.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for this to continue,” Governor Brown said. “The very fabric of the Burns community is being ripped apart by this occupation.”
The Burns Paiute Tribe also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent the armed group from moving freely on and off the national wildlife refuge.