Three more suspected militia men involved in an armed standoff with authorities at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon have been arrested.
The FBI and Oregon State Police announced that they arrested Duane Leo Ehmer of Irrigon, Oregon, Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah. Jason S. Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Georgia was arrested several hours later.
The arrests follow the release of federal court documents which claim that the militia men were equipped with night vision goggles and explosives. Federal authorities received a tip off soon after the group stormed the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2 that they were prepared to fight at the refuge or in the nearby town of Burns’.
Oregon militia leader Ammon Bundy (left) and his brother, Ryan Bundy (right), were arrested Tuesday night
Joseph O’Shaughnessy (left) and Peter Santilli (right) were arrested in Burns, Oregon, a short time after the traffic stop and shoot-out
Brian Cavalier, 44 (left), and Ryan Payne (right) were charged along with the others with conspiracy to impede federal officers
Shawna Cox (left), 59, was taken to Multnomah County Jail along with the other detained militia members Tuesday. Jon Ritzheimer (right), 32, was arrested in Peoria, Arizona, after turning himself in to police
Emotional: A visibly shaken Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told reporters on Wednesday the standoff with the Oregon militia has been tearing the local community apart
Killed: Oregon militia spokesman LaVoy Finicum (pictured earlier this month) was shot dead after a traffic stop escalated into a shoot-out between the activists and FBI agents on a highway on Tuesday afternoon
The arrested leader of the group Ammon Bundy has called on his followers to pull out of the wildlife reserve in a statement released through his lawyer Mike Arnold.
According to the statement, Bundy said: ‘Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is now in the courts.’
The men were described as being in contact with the FBI and officials said the men chose to turn themselves in to agents on a road near the refuge.
As with Bundy and the seven others arrested a day earlier, officials said the men will each face a felony charge.
Heavily armed police and federal agents have closed in on the wildlife reserve in an effort to bring the stand-off to a conclusion with militia leader Ammon Bundy urging his followers to go home and hug their families
Law enforcement tightened security around the Malheur
National Wildlife Refuge after Bundy and
his group were taken into custody at a traffic stop on Highway
395 in northeast Oregon.
However some protesters said they refused to use the word ‘surrender’.
‘I don’t know what surrendering looks like,’ Jason Patrick said. ‘They’re walking through the checkpoint and going home. That’s what I’ve heard unless I’m being lied to.’
Patrick added: ‘It’s getting emptier over time, some people leaving, some people still there holding on to what they’re holding on to.’
‘Please go home’: Ammon Bundy, pictured earlier this month, released a statement through his attorney Wednesday asking protesters to leave the site of an armed anti-government protest
Authorities declined to divulge details of what led to the
fatal shooting of Arizona rancher Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum. Bundy’s brother, Ryan, was wounded
in the incident.
At a news conference in Burns, Oregon, this morning
Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in charge of the agency’s
Portland office, said that the remaining occupiers were ‘free to
leave’ the refuge and would be identified at checkpoints manned
by law enforcement.
‘Let me be clear: It is the actions and choices of the armed
occupiers of the refuge that have led us to where we are
today,’ Bretzing said. ‘They had ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully and, as the FBI and our partners have clearly demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.’
Bretzing said he could not give details of the traffic stop and shooting incident because they are under investigation, but according to a new eyewitness account, Finicum was gunned down after charging at law enforcement officials.
Mike McConnell, who claimed to have been behind the wheel of one of the vehicles heading to a community meeting in the town of John Day Tuesday, posted an eight-minute video on his Facebook page Wednesday recounting what happened during the confrontation between the militiamen and the authorities.
Memorial: The group marched up and down N. Broadway Avenue holding a vigil for Finicum, who would have turned 56 on this day
The protesters marches Wednesday night on what would have been the 56th birthday of Robert Finicum
In protest: A group of more than 20 people marched up and down a street in Burns, Oregon, on Wednesday night holding a candlelight celebration of the life for Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum
Contrary to earlier accounts claiming that Finicum was shot while kneeling and raising his hands in a sign of surrender, McConnell said the 55-year-old was shot after charging at police officers who were standing at a roadblock.
‘LaVoy was passionate about this, about the movement,’ McConnell said.
His account has not been independently verified or corroborated by officials, but some aspects of it matched what law enforcement sources had said about the shooting earlier, according to The Oregonian, which first reported on the Facebook video.
The witness, who was driving a pickup truck carrying militia leader Ammond Bundy and another occupier at the time of the incident, said he was briefly detained for questioning but later released.
Bundy, his brother Ryan and three other leaders of the occupation – Ryan Payne, 32; Brian Cavalier, 44, and Shawna Cox, 59 – were charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, Oregon Live reports.
All detained militia members were being held at Multnomah County Jail without bail Wednesday. They were expected to have their initial court appearance later today.
During a press conference this morning, a visibly shaken Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told reporters, with his voice breaking: ‘I’m disappointed that a
traffic stop yesterday that was supposed to bring peaceful
resolution to this ended badly.
FBI Special Agent Greg Bretzing (pictured) said at a press conference Wednesday that the occupiers’ actions were to blame for the violent confrontation the day before
Sheriff Ward said, with his voice breaking: ‘I’m disappointed that a traffic stop yesterday that was supposed to bring peaceful resolution to this ended badly’
Police officers block the turnout to Sodhouse Lane, which is the main road leading to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters Wednesday
Authorities were restricting access on Wednesday to the Oregon refuge being occupied by an armed group
Witness speaks: Mike McConnell, who claimed to have been behind the wheel of one of the vehicles that were pulled over during Tuesday’s fateful traffic stop, said in a video that Finicum was shot after charging at police
‘Multiple law enforcement
agencies put a lot of work into putting together the best
tactical plan they could, to take these guys down peacefully… If it was as simple as just waiting out some folks down
there to get out of some buildings, we could have waited a lot
longer,’ Ward said.
‘But this has been tearing our community
apart. It’s time for everybody in this illegal occupation to
move on. There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community.’
Ward said if the occupiers had legitimate grievances with
the government, they should use the ‘appropriate manner’ to
‘This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America
and it can’t happen in Harney County,’ he said.
Jason Patrick, one of the leaders of the occupation, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that five or six group members remained inside the refuge.
Speaking to Reuters by phone, Patrick said they would stay until the ‘redress of grievances’.
‘I’ve heard ‘peaceful resolution’ for weeks now and now there’s a cowboy who is my friend who is dead – so prepare for the peaceful resolution,’ Patrick said.
In a live feed from the occupied refuge, a man (right) tells his mother on the phone: ”If I die, I died for my country’
On Wednesday morning an occupier posted what appeared to be a live feed from the refuge on a YouTube page called ‘DefendYourBase.’ In it, a few occupiers, some dressed in camouflage, were seen in front of what appeared to be a heavy-duty 320D excavator, at least two of them carrying firearms.
At one point, a man spoke on a phone with a person he identified as his mother and offered her reassurance.
‘If I die, I died for my country, I died a free man,’ he said. ‘That’s how I want to die.’
The man added that his group had ‘food and everything for the long haul’.
About 13 miles from the refuge headquarters, a sign warned drivers to turn around because a roadblock was ahead. Reporters and others who approached the vehicles blocking the road were met by FBI agents wearing camouflage body armor and helmets and carrying assault rifles. A spike strip, designed to puncture tires, was laid across the pavement just beyond the roadblock.
Police and news media have converged on the nearby town of Burns, where most hotels are booked to capacity.
Ammon Bundy (left), his brother Ryan (right) and five other militiamen were arrested at the scene and charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers. Ryan Bundy, who has a severed nerve in his face, was wounded in the confrontation
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 LaVoy Finicum and Ryan Bundy were shot
Another Oregon State police officer stands by a vehicle on Highway 395 after arrested five of the occupiers
An AirLife medical transport helicopter lifts-off from St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon on January 26 en route to Burns after the deadly shootout
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
Officials would not confirm the identity of the militiaman shot dead. However, Finicum’s daughter Arianna Finicum Brown, 26, confirmed her father’s death to The Oregonian, saying ‘he would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved’.
Nevada state Rep Michele Fiore told the paper that Ammon Bundy called his wife from the back of the police vehicle after his arrest and told her that Finicum was cooperating with the authorities when he was shot. However, other sources said that he resisted arrest.
In an interview with MSNBC three weeks ago, Finicum declared that he would rather die than face arrest.
‘There are things more important than your life, and freedom is one of them,’ he said at the time. ‘I’m prepared to defend freedom.’
He sounded a similar note when speaking to CNN earlier this month.
‘I’m just not going to prison,’ Finicum said. ‘Look at the stars. There’s no way I’m going to sit in a concrete cell where I can’t see the stars and roll out my bedroll on the ground.
‘I want to be able to get up in the morning and throw my saddle on my horse and go check on my cows. It’s OK. I’ve lived a good life. God’s been gracious to me.’
Patriarch: Finicum, a Mormon rancher from Arizona, was a father of 11 and grandfather of 19. This Facebook image shows the militiaman with one of his grandkids
Family man: Finicum (center) and wife Jeanette (right) had been married for 23 years
Finicum, a Mormon rancher from Arizona, was a father of 11 and grandfather of 19 who was married to his wife, Jeanette, for 23 years.
His daughter Challice Finch told NBC News after the deadly standoff that her father and his fellow protesters were ‘all committed to not firing on federal agents’.
WHO WAS LAVOY FINICUM?
LaVoy Finicum, 55, of northern Arizona, has been the right-hand man to the occupation’s leader Ammon Bundy since the stand-off began on January 2.
Acting as spokesman for the group, he gave numerous press conferences to communicate their position.
At one point he personally climbed up a pole to dismantle surveillance cameras in an apparent show of defiance against the government.
But he has not always held such a strong anti-government stance.
Last year, he told the St George News that he complied with federal land controls until Cliven Bundy’s stand-off in Nevada in 2014.
The episode, he said, struck a chord with him.
He joined the Bundys and ‘did a lot of soul-searching’ until he ‘realized that Cliven Bundy was standing on a very strong constitutional principle – and yet, here I was continuing to pay a grazing fee to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).’
Finicum’s wife of 23 years, Jeanette, recently arrived in Oregon, traveling up from Arizona, to celebrate his 56th birthday.
Beyond life as a militiaman and rancher, Finicum was a father of 11 and grandfather of 23 who also found time to write a novel, Only By Blood And Suffering, about a time when guns are no more, cars have stopped working, the market has imploded, and the Chinese control everything.
Speaking to The Oregonian on the eve of his death, LaVoy Finicum noted that law enforcement officials ‘have become more hardened’ as of late.
‘They’re doing all the things that show they want to take some kinetic action against us, and we’re saying, ‘Why be so unfriendly?” the militia spokesman told the paper.
Joseph O’Shaughnessy, 45, and Peter Santilli, 50, were arrested in Burns soon after the traffic stop and shoot-out.
An eighth group member, Jon Ritzheimer, 32, was arrested in Peoria, Arizona, after turning himself in to the police department, Fox reported.
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 LaVoy Finicum were taken, St Charles Medical Center, was placed on lockdown in the wake of the shootout.
Some 25 miles of Highway 395 was shut down in both directions following the incident, a dispatcher for the state department of transportation said.
It was unclear how many people remained in the buildings at the refuge in the wake of the shootout. 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’.
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.
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.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s three sons and ‘about 150’ militiamen have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge HQ to protest the pending imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers accused of arson
Rancher Cliven Bundy speaks to media while standing along the road near his ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, after visiting the family of LaVoy Finicum
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, traveled 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.
Charged: Ammon Bundy’s bodyguard Brian Cavalier (left) and Jon Ritzheimer (right) were also arrested
Charged: Shawna Cox, regularly seen at Ammon Bundy’s side, was also detained during the traffic stop
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 is pictured under lockdown
It was 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.