NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 8:43 AM
State Police troopers fatally shot the self-proclaimed spokesman for the Oregon militia occupying a wildlife refuge Tuesday, and authorities arrested eight others as a standoff with the remaining occupiers intensified Wednesday.
Gunfire erupted along Highway 395 during a Tuesday afternoon traffic stop 70 miles north of Burns on their way to a community meeting.
Militia spokesman LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot during the encounter, and ringleader Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and followers Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox and Brian Cavalier were arrested.
Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy and talk-show radio host Peter Santilli were arrested separately in Burns while another militia member, Jon Rizheimer, surrendered to authorities in Arizona, authorities said.
The seven arrested in oregon are being held at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland. All eight of the suspects are facing a slew of federal felony charges, including conspiracy to impede officers, according to officials.
“We continue to work with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and his deputies, Oregon State Police and the United States Attorney’s Office to address any further outstanding issues,” the FBI said in a statement.
Seeven people — (top, left to right) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, (bottom, left to right) Shawna Cox, Ryan Payn, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli — were arrested in Oregon.
The FBI and Oregon State Police set up checkpoints around the embroiled Malheur National Wildlife Refuge early Wednesday: Only ranchers who own property inside the refuge will be allowed in, officials said.
“Non-compliant people will be subject to arrest,” the agencies said in a statement.
The militia group took over the refuge, situated in a federal building, on Jan. 2 after a peaceful protest in nearby Burns, Oregon, over the conviction of two local ranchers on arson charges.
Finicum, a rancher who had spoken at several news conferences, was considered an unofficial spokesman for the group,
Deborah Finch, the mother of Finicum’s son-in-law, learned of the rancher’s death through protestors. Finicum’s wife had traveled to Burns from the couple’s Arizona ranch to celebrate his 56th birthday, the Oregonian reported.
“It’s so sad, it’s so bizarre to me,” said Finch, who told the Daily News that the dead rancher was fighting for what he believed in.
It’s unclear if those arrested had returned fire.
The family of LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher, said he was killed in a shooting with Oregon State Police during a traffic stop Tuesday night.
Ryan Bundy was injured during the confrontation, but has since been released from a hospital and placed in federal custody. The hospital was locked down while the suspect was treated.
A convoy of armed police vehicles was witnessed driving toward the refuge to set up roadblocks just after midnight Wednesday. A tractor blocked one road to the Malheur headquarters, where a handful of militia members were holed up through the night as others abandoned the takeover.
A member of the militia group, Jason Patrick, met with a KTVZ-TV reporter at the makeshift tractor barrier while speaking on the phone with an FBI negotiator. The agent wanted all women at the refuge to leave.
David Fry, a militiaman who continued to stream video from the wildlife refuge early Wednesday, strapped himself with a bandolier of gunshot shells and said he was “determined to take a stand.”
“They get to watch us die,” he told his viewers on “Defend Your Base” channel.
Judge Steve Grasty, a staunch opponent of the militia, heralded Tuesday’s arrests as the end of the armed occupation.
“I am relieved this situation is coming to an end,” Grasty said in a statement. “However, I am saddened by the loss of life. I hope and pray that those who remain at the Refuge will stand down peacefully.”
It’s unclear what led to the traffic stop, but a statement from federal and state police described the incident as an “enforcement action.”
Gov. Kate Brown had criticized the lack of federal action against the militia members, calling upon investigators last week to clear out the refuge.
“The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “My priority is the safety of all Oregonians and communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”
Santilli, a right-wing activist who live-streamed the goings-on at the militia headquarters, was apprehended 6:30 p.m. at a road block while trying to access the wildlife refuge.
Santilli hoped to escort women and children out of the militia base, according to an archive of his live stream. It’s never been confirmed how many children were living at the refuge with their families.
Ritzheimer, a 32-year-old who stated that he wanted to “die a free man” and did not expect to see his family again in a YouTube video recorded before the occupation, turned himself over to Arizona authorities, also on conspiracy charges.
Harney County authorities would not say where arrested militia members were being housed or when they would be booked into a jail facility. A media briefing slated for 10:30 a.m. local time Wednesday is expected to reveal more about Tuesday’s arrests.
After Santilli’s arrest, his camera continued to stream. It was later wielded by a crying woman who took the device into a motel room stocked with boxes of bottled water.
“You know what’s really strange, everyone? I don’t even know what to say,” the unidentified woman said.
The streaming stopped for several hours but restarted at around 1 a.m. as the same woman reflected on Santilli’s arrest. She spoke as a man snored in the background.
Bundy and his brothers led the armed takeoverfollowing a rally in defense of two cattle ranchers convicted of arson.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. The two were convicted three years ago. But in October, a federal judge 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.
With News Wire Services