1 dead, 8 arrested after leaders of armed group occupying refuge clash with FBI
One person is dead and eight others, including Oregon occupation leader Ammon Bundy, were detained following a violent confrontation with the FBI and state police Tuesday night.
It all began with a traffic stop while Bundy and some of his followers were en route to a community meeting at a John Day senior center, about 70 miles north of Burns.
Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State troopers and other law enforcement agencies made the stop on US Highway 395.
Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne were arrested during the stop. They were booked into the Multnomah County jail early Wednesday morning.
Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy and online talk-show radio host Peter Santilli were arrested in Burns. Jon Ritzheimer was arrested after surrendering to authorities in his home state of Arizona.
All of them are facing federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties, through the use of force, intimidation or threats.
LaVoy Finicum, an outspoken member of the armed group who would often speak at news conferences in place of Bundy, was shot and killed during the confrontation. Ryan Bundy suffered a non-life threatening injury in the shooting.
CNN is reporting it's unclear who fired first.
The FBI and State Police troopers set up containment checkpoints around the refuge on Wednesday, a move they say is for the safety of the community and law enforcement. Only local ranchers with property on the refuge will be allowed through the checkpoints, and anyone leaving will have their vehicle searched.
"I am relieved this situation is coming to and end, however, I am saddened by the loss of life," Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said Tuesday. "I hope and pray that those who remain at the refuge will stand down peacefully."
Federal law enforcement officers converged on the wildlife refuge after the arrests and were expected to remain at the site throughout the night. It was unclear how many members of the armed group, if any, were at the refuge when the law enforcement officers arrived.
Harney County Sheriff's Office will be holding a news conference Wednesday starting at 10:30 a.m.
The arrests came on the heels of the 24th day of the refuge occupation.
Bundy and about three dozen other individuals occupied the wildlife refuge earlier this month after two local ranchers, the Hammonds, were sent to prison for setting fires on federal land.
The Hammonds served no more than a year until an appeals court judge ruled that the terms fell short of minimum sentences requiring them to serve about four more years.
Ammon Bundy, the self-proclaimed leader of Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, occupied the refuge to protest federal land restrictions. He had said he prayed about the matter and "clearly understood that the Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds."
Bundy told KATU News last weekend his group had no intention of using their weapons, "but we have them, and we're willing to stand with them in our own defense as we exercise our rights, and as we restore our rights back to our brothers and sisters."
Around the same time, KATU News spoke with Harney Co. Judge Grasty.
"Somebody will do something stupid," Grasty said. "If it goes south, it'll go south because Mr. Bundy or his friends started something."
Gov. Kate Brown had repeatedly asked for assistance from federal authorities regarding the occupation in the days leading up to the shootout.
After the arrests Tuesday night, she Tweeted that her priority is "the safety of all Oregonians & communities."
Several men have been arrested for various traffic infractions during the occupation, but none of them were directly related to the refuge occupation.
In March 2014, Ammon's father Cliven Bundy was at the center of an armed standoff with federal officials over grazing rights on government land. Federal officials backed away from seizing the Nevada rancher's cattle, but the dispute remains unresolved, and the Bureau of Land Management says the family has not made payments toward a $1.1 million grazing fee and penalty bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report