September 19, 2021

Bundys in custody, one militant dead after gunfight near Burns |

LaVoy Finicum — the Oregon militant beneath the blue tarp — killed in police shootout: reportsBURNS, Ore. — A small group of holdouts continued the tense standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday, one day after eight others abandoned the site as federal, state and local authorities tightened their grip on the armed occupation.

Protester David Fry said in a video feed Wednesday night that he and four other people remain at the refuge but are willing to leave if none are criminally charged.

Duane Leo Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, Ore., and Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah, and Jason S. Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Ga., were arrested Wednesday at checkpoints manned by the FBI and Oregon State Police, the FBI said. Five others were not arrested.

Eleven occupiers have been arrested in the standoff that began Jan. 2 as a protest against federal management of local land. Each faces one 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. The maximum penalty for a conviction is six years in prison.

Protest leader Ammon Bundy, 40, was one of six protesters stopped Tuesday at a roadblock 20 miles from the refuge. Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, a soft-spoken but defiant Arizona rancher, was shot and killed. Officials refused to provide details, but his identity was confirmed by his family. Bundy and the other four protesters were taken into custody.

On Wednesday, Bundy urged his followers to leave the refuge. His lawyer, Mike Arnold, read a statement by Bundy on the steps of a courthouse in Portland.

 “Right now, I am asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted,” the statement read. “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

“They have chosen to threaten and intimidate the America they profess to love and through their criminal actions bring these consequences upon themselves,” Greg Bretzing, the FBI special agent in charge, said earlier Wednesday.

In a particularly emotional statement before reporters, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward spoke directly to the remaining half-dozen holdouts at the refuge.

“It is time for everybody in this illegal occupation to move on,” Ward said, stopping periodically to regain his composure. “There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community. (When) we have issues with the way things are in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on them in an appropriate manner. We don’t arm up, we don’t rebel. We work through the appropriate channels. This can’t happen anymore, this can’t happen in America, and it can’t happen in Harney County.”

Those arrested Tuesday included the Ammon, of Emmett, Idaho, and his brother Ryan, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., along with Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville; Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont. Also arrested, at separate locations in Burns, Ore., near the refuge, were Pete Santilli, host of a conservative online radio show, and Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Ariz.

An eighth person, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, was arrested after turning himself into police in Peoria, Ariz.

Bundy, head of an anti-government group, had been holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since Jan. 2, when he and his followers seized its headquarters south of Burns as part of a long-running dispute over public land use in the West.

Three weeks after a group of armed protestors occupied a wildlife refuge in Oregon, the FBI and Oregon State Police moved in to arrest them. VPC

Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights. The elder Bundy said the fatal shooting of Finicum and the arrests should be a “wake-up call to America.”

“This is a total disaster to be happening in America, where we have federal people killing innocent people,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “My sons were there to do good.”

Stanglin reported from Arlington, Va.