BREAKING NEWS UPDATE 11:47 P.M. EST REGARDING OREGON ARRESTS OF BUNDY AND 7 OTHERS WITH 1 LEFT DEAD
The Bundy Ranch issued a statement denouncing the death of an armed occupier in Oregon on Tuesday.
“The resolve for principled liberty must go on,” read the statement on the ranch’s Facebook page. “It appears that America was fired upon by our government. One of liberty’s finest patriots is fallen. He will not go silent into eternity. Our appeal is to heaven.”
Authorities arrested Ammon Bundy, leader of the armed protesters who took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, and several of his followers in a traffic stop Tuesday, officials said.
One of the occupiers — LaVoy Finicum — was killed during the arrest, a law enforcement official said.
The official said when two vehicles were stopped, everyone obeyed orders to surrender except for two people: Finicum and Bundy’s brother, Ryan Bundy.
Shots were fired, but it’s not known who fired first, the official said. The official said Ryan Bundy was injured.
Authorities identified those arrested at the traffic stop as Ammon Bundy, who has led the armed occupation for 25 days; Ryan Bundy; and Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan Waylen Payne, authorities said.
Separately, two other people — Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy and Peter Santilli — were arrested in Burns, the FBI and Oregon State Police said.
All seven arrested face a 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, authorities said.
The occupiers took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns on January 2 to protest federal land policies.
Ammon Bundy, son of controversial Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and others started out protesting the sentencing of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, ranchers convicted of arson on federal lands in Oregon.
But a march supporting the Hammonds led to the armed occupation of the refuge, with occupiers decrying what they call government overreach when it comes to federal lands.
Finicum, the occupier killed Tuesday, had said he’d rather be killed than arrested.
“Absolutely … I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box,” he told NBC News. “There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them,” he said. “I’m prepared to defend freedom.”
Last week, Oregon’s governor said that she’d had enough of the protest at the refuge in Harney County, in the southeastern corner of her state.
“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far,” Gov. Kate Brown said during a news conference. “This spectacle of lawlessness must end. And until Harney County is free of it I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law.”
Fox News is reporting the following:
The leader of a group of armed protesters who had occupied a federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon for 24 days was arrested along with four others late Tuesday after an armed confrontation left one person dead and another injured.
The FBI said authorities arrested Ammon Bundy, 40, his brother Ryan, 43, Brian Cavalier, 44, Shawna Cox, 59, and Ryan Payne, 32, during a traffic stop at around 4:25 p.m. local time on U.S. Highway 395.
Two other people were arrested separately in the nearby town of Burns. They were identified as Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, and Peter Santilli, 50. The FBI said all those arrested face a 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 FBI also said one individual “who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased.” No other information about the deceased was immediately released pending formal identification by the local medical examiner’s office. Another unidentified person suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was arrested.
The protesters were heading to a public meeting in the town of John Day about the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge when there was an confrontation with law enforcement on the highway, law enforcement officials told Fox News.
The Harney County Hospital in Burns is on lockdown out of concern that the protesters may cause a disturbance there.
Ammon Bundy’s group, calling itself the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, seized the refuge’s headquarters on Jan. 2 as part of a long-running dispute over public lands in the West. Specifically, the group wanted federal lands turned over to local authorities. The U.S. government controls about half of all land in the West.
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.
Ammon and Ryan Bundy are the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
The protesters, including people from as far away as Arizona and Michigan, came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to decry what it calls onerous federal land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.
Local and state authorities had criticized the FBI recently for not taking action against Bundy’s group, with some urging the protesters to leave peacefully.