Ammon Bundy has been arrested and his brother Ryan was wounded in a shoot-out with FBI officers that left one of their militiamen dead, reports claim.
It is the climax of a tense stand-off between federal agents and the activists more than three weeks after they took over a government building in Burns, Oregon, to protest two ranchers being jailed.
They were driving to a community meeting with eight other activists on Tuesday afternoon when they were stopped by traffic cops, according KATU.
Within minutes, shots were fired, wounding Ryan Bundy and killing an unidentified militiaman.
It is not clear who opened fire first.
Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and three other leader of the occupation – Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, and Shawna Cox – were detained and charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, Oregon Live reports.
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Ammon Bundy has allegedly been arrested with three of his militiamen three weeks after taking over a government building in Oregon. He is pictured at a news conference at the start of the occupation on January 5
Sgt. Tom Hutchison stands in front of an Oregon State Police roadblock on Highway 395 between John Day and Burns by Oregon State police officers Tuesday after Ryan Bundy and another militiaman was shot
Another Oregon State police officer stands by a vehicle on Highway 395 after arrested five of the occupiers
The group was driving to a community meeting on Tuesday when they were stopped by traffic cops. Pictured: the highway between Burns, Oregon, and John Day, where they were driving to attend a meeting
Within minutes, shots were fired, wounding Ryan Bundy and killing an unidentified militiaman. The hospital where Bundy and the unidentified victim were taken, St Charles Medical Center (pictured), is now on lockdown
A fifth individual was arrested by the Oregon State Police in a separate incident in Burns, Oregon about 1.5 hours later. The FBI said a sixth person was later arrested, 50-year-old Peter Santilli, described by the Oregonian newspaper as an independent broadcaster who livestreamed events at the refuge.
All of those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties, the FBI said.
The hospital where Ryan Bundy and the unidentified victim were taken, St Charles Medical Center, is now on lockdown.
Some 25 miles (40 km) of Highway 395 was shut down in both directions following the incident, a dispatcher for the state department of transportation said.
According to Oregon Live, the leaders had been en route to John Day – 70 miles from Burns – to appear as guest speakers at a meeting with hundreds of local residents.
The crowd was informed the group would not be able to make it to the event after the dramatic traffic stop.
Frustrated local and state officials have been increasingly urging the FBI to do something to resolve the situation.
Bundy and his group have held frequent news conferences at the site, travelled to meet with sympathizers and others to espouse their views and some even attended a community meeting last week, where local residents shouted at them to leave.
Federal authorities have taken a hands-off approach so far and say they want a peaceful resolution.
Bundy has been in contact with an FBI negotiator and local law enforcement.
On Friday Bundy went to the Burns Municipal Airport, where the FBI has set up a staging area, and met briefly with a federal agent.
Bundy left because the agent wouldn’t talk with him in front of the media. Sieges by federal authorities in the early 1990s led to deadly standoffs in at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.
The group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2 after a peaceful protest in nearby Burns, Oregon, over the conviction of two local ranchers on arson charges.
Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.
It is the climax of a tense stand-off between the two groups more than three weeks after the Bundys took over a government building to protest two ranchers being jailed. Pictured: federal officers blocking the road
Ammon Bundy and three others – Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, and Shawna Cox – were detained and charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers
Bundy, pictured with fellow leader Lavoy Finicum (left), walked out of talks with the FBI because they wouldn’t let him record the conversation
The two were convicted three years ago and served time — the father three months, the son one year.
But in October, a federal judge in Oregon ruled their terms were too short under U.S. law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each. Among the demands by the Bundy group is for the Hammonds to be released.
The alleged arrests on Tuesday come after an Army veteran was arrested for a DUI while he was heading to join the militia occupying federal land in Oregon.
Joseph Arthur Stetson, 54, was caught on camera threatening to kill cops on Monday as he was driving to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.