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Harney County holdouts want pardons before they'll leave refuge

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UPDATE: Video from Tuesday afternoon arrests shows LaVoy Finicum's shooting


COURTESY OF THE FBI - A screenshot from the FBI overhead video of the Jan. 26 arrests on Highway 395 of militants who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for four weeks, shows Oregon State Police troopers in a confrontation with Robert LaVoy Finicum after he climbed out of his white truck during a traffic stop.The four militants still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge want to be pardoned before they will leave.

David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, posted a video on his DefendYourBase YouTube site Friday afternoon saying the four — Sean and Sandy Anderson and Jeff Banta — want to be pardoned so they can leave without facing federal charges.

The demand came during negotiations with FBI agents during the past day, Fry said. It was an attempt to see how far the FBI would take the negotiations, he said during a rambling narration of the talks as his camera panned the group's muddy camp site.

Without assurances that they will be allowed to go free, the four plan to stay put at the wildlife refuge, Fry said. That stretches the militant occupation of the refuge into its 27th day.

Fry's YouTube video shows a makeshift encampment littered with trash and stacks of bottled water.





One day earlier, the FBI released a video of Tuesday afternoon's arrests on Highway 395 of the occupation's leaders, including Ammon Bundy, as they traveled to a community meeting in John Day, about 70 miles north of Burns.

The FBI's agent-in-charge in Oregon said Tuesday afternoon's shooting death of 54-year-old Robert LeVoy Finicum of Freedonia, Ariz., was the result of "reckless action" by Finicum when he climbed out of his still-running truck, faced Oregon State Police troopers and reached inside his jacket, where he had a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

An FBI video that was taken from a plane flying over Highway 395 during the Jan. 26 arrests showed Oregon State Police trucks stopping a Jeep carrying Ammon Bundy and others, and attempting to stop a white truck driven by Finicum. A white truck sped away after nearly four minutes stopped in the middle of the highway. It crashed into a snowbank on the left side of the road while trying to avoid a roadblock about a mile from where state troopers first attempted to stop it.

During the brief stop, Ryan Payne climbed out of the white truck and surrendered without incident.


CAUTION: THIS VIDEO INCLUDES GRAPHIC IMAGES




The video, which the FBI posted on its YouTube channel, shows Finicum leaving his truck, waving his arms and then reaching inside his jacket. He was shot by state troopers, said Greg Bretzing, the FBI agent-in-charge in Oregon.

“It was a reckless action that resulted in the consequences that you see here today,” Bretzing told reporters during a 30-minute press conference in Burns.

On Thursday, the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Finicum died during the traffic stop.

Finicum was among nearly a dozen militants from the group Citizens for Constitutional Freedom who had occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge compound since Jan. 2. Seven people were taken into custody on the highway as they were headed to a meeting in John Day, about 70 miles north of Burns.

GREG BRETZINGAmmon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, and others in a separate vehicle surrendered without incident and were taken into custody on the highway. They have been charged with preventing a federal employee from doing his or her job through threats or intimidation, a felony that carries a sentence of six years and a fine if convicted.

Inside the two vehicles, state troopers and FBI agents found three loaded weapons — two semi-automatic rifles and a revolver — after the arrests.

Finicum’s shooting death has been the subject of heated debate and rumors flying around social media. One person who was inside Finicum’s truck claimed he was shot as he tried to surrender. Another account said he was shot while handcuffed on the ground.

Bretzing said the FBI released the airplane video to rebut those rumors. Additional video of the incident could be released after an investigation into the shooting by the Deschutes County Major Crimes Team.

Bretzing said the four-week occupation had caused stress and disruption in Harney County, but law enforcement officers were trying to bring it to a peaceful conclusion.

“We know this is difficult,” he told reporters. “We know that you want this concluded as soon as possible. We are doing everything we can to bring this to a resolution safely and quickly.”

COURTESY PHOTO - Only four militants remained Thurdsay morning, Jan. 28, at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The militants hoped to negotiate with FBI and law enforcement to leave the refuge without being arrested. This is a screenshot from Thursday morning's video update on DefendYourBase.

Negotiating around the clock

Late Thursday afternoon, before Bretzing talked with reporters, FBI and Oregon State Police roadblocks were moved from the highway in front of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to the refuge entrance road. Four militants are still in the refuge, trying to negotiate their way out without being arrested.

Bretzing said FBI negotiators were working “around the clock” to get the four to leave peacefully.

During a video update early Thursday morning, Fry reported that several people left the compound Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, leaving their weapons behind.


HEAR DAVID FRY TALK WITH OPB'S THINK OUT LOUD.


That includes Jason S. Patrick of of Bonaire, Ga., who became a leader among the small group of militants who remained at the refuge compound. Patrick and others were seen a series of YouTube videos broadcast as militants prepared for what they said would be an assault by law enforcement on the refuge.

Patrick was taken into custody at about 7:40 p.m. Jan. 27, at a checkpoint near the compound. Patrick turned himself in to FBI agents at the checkpoint, after walking several miles.

COURTESY PHOTO - David Fry of Defend Your Base YouTube channel is one of the four remaining militants at the wildlife refuge.About four hours earlier, FBI agents arrested 45-year-old Duane Leo Ehmer of Irrigon and 34-year-old Dylan Wade Anderson of Provo, Utah.

Each of the three faces a charge of conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony.

Eleven people have been arrested in the past two days, beginning with Tuesday evening’s traffic stop that led to the arrests of Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and five others on a highway north of Burns.

In his video update Thursday morning, Jan. 28, Fry said all four of the remaining militants wanted to leave, but one of them faced arrest, so they hoped to negotiate a solution.

“A lot of people don’t want it to be another Waco,” Fry said, referring to the law enforcement action at the April 1993 Branch Davidians’ compound in Texas. “They really weren’t willing to die because they have family members.

“Everybody here came with intentions of thinking it was a peaceful revolution. Everybody brought guns as a self-defense measure. (Because of) the fear of the FBI coming to kill them, they’d rather stay with their families. So a lot of people left. They left their guns. It’s kind of crazy.”

Fry told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper on Wednesday that he was prepared to die in an expected law enforcement assault on the wildlife refuge compound. Late Wednesday night, Fry tweeted that he was "cold and tired and ready to go home. I can't act tough any longer. This isn't for me."

COURTESY OF KOIN 6 NEWS - Attorneys Lissa Casey and Mike Arnold of Eugene are defending Ammon Bundy in federal court. They told reporters Thursday morning outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland that Bundy wanted a peaceful resolution to the four-week standoff at the wildlife refuge.

Attorneys read Bundy statement

As the standoff continued with a few militants, Ammon Bundy’s lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey of Eugene, issued a statement Wednesday saying Bundy wanted those remaining at the wildlife refuge to leave peacefully. The statement included an audio clip from Bundy’s wife, Lisa, who said Ammon wanted people to go home.

“We will have more to say later but right now I am asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted,” Ammon Bundy said in his statement. “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.”

Bundy released a new statement Thursday morning urging those militants at the refuge to turn themselves in and fight the issue in court.

“Do not use physical force,” according to Bundy’s statement that was read by his attorneys Thursday morning in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. “Use the national platform that we have to continue to defend liberty.”

Bundy’s statement included the claim that the occupiers “had guns only for our protection. We never pointed them at another person. We never wanted bloodshed.”

A crowdsourcing defense fund has been set up at www.Fundedjustice.com to raise $100,000 for Ammon Bundy. So far, only one person has pledged $1,000 to the fund.

COURTESY PHOTO - A screenshot from the Defend Your Base live YouTube broadcast shows an armed miltant preparing a defensive position near the edge of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge compound. Several militants stayed on the compound after arrests of the occupation's leaders Tuesday evening.

'Tearing our community apart'

Early Wednesday morning, militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were preparing defensive positions, ready for a fight, hours after FBI and Oregon State Police arrested seven people during a Tuesday evening traffic stop on a remote highway 20 miles north of Burns.

The FBI and Oregon State Police set up a series of roadblocks and checkpoints near the refuge “to better ensure the safety of community members and law enforcement.”

During a Wednesday morning press conference, Bretzing told reporters and community members that law enforcement “worked diligently to bring this situation to a peaceful close.” He said law enforcement would try to end the occupation peacefully, but “it is the action and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have led us to where we are today. Actions are not without consequences.”

“If the people on the refuge want to leave, they are free to do so through the checkpoints where they will be identified,” Bretzing said. “We made a promise to the citizens of this county that we will continue to look for safe peaceful procedures to bring this to a conclusion.”

COURTESY OF HARNEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Harney County Sheriff David Ward said the continued occupation of the wildlife refuge was 'tearing our community apart.'In a short, passionate statement, Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward told reporters that he was disappointed in the death of one of the militants during Tuesday evening’s traffic stop, but, he said, “it didn’t have to happen.”

Ward said occupation of the refuge, now in its fourth week, was “tearing our community apart.”

“It’s time for everybody in this illegal occupation to move on,” Ward told reporters. “There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community. If we have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to work through appropriate channels to address them.

“This can’t happen anymore. It can’t happen in America, and it can’t happen in Harney County.”

COURTESY OF KOIN 6 NEWS - Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in charge in Oregon, told reporters Wednesday morning that law enforcement agencies wanted to end the occupation of a Harney County wildlife refuge peacefully. Harney County Sheriff David Ward, right, also called on the armed militants to leave the refuge peacefully.

Militants dig in

A live YouTube broadcast by DefendYourBase showed a half-dozen armed people in camouflage holding semi-automatic rifles and shotguns preparing to fight off what they said was a planned assault by federal and state law enforcement officers.

The militants used the live broadcast to call for reinforcements. Rumors swirled that “Navy seals” in their 50s were in a convoy headed to the Harney County refuge, along with other militants who were supposedly coming to defend the compound that has been occupied since Jan. 2 by a group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, led by 40-year-old Ammon E. Bundy.

At one point around 10:30 a.m., gunshots were heard near a law enforcement roadblock. Militants’ radios crackled with word that a group of about 15 vehicles approached the roadblock and shots were fired. No other information was provided.

By about noon, helicopters could be heard buzzing over the area as militants talked with each other on radios, warning against firing shots at the aircraft.

A handful of militants said they planned to stay at the wildlife refuge compound after the arrests Tuesday evening of Ammon Bundy and seven other people. Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the group’s spokesman who frequently talked with the media, was killed during the traffic stop. Ryan Bundy was injured during the incident. He was treated and released from a local hospital and was taken into custody.

Finicum killed in traffic stop

COURTESY PHOTO: OPB - LaVoy Finicum was reported killed Tuesday afternoon during a law enforcement stop on Highway 395 about 20 miles north of Burns. The Bundys and several other people (including an 18-year-old girl) were traveling in two vehicles to a meeting in John Day, about 70 miles north of Burns on Highway 395, when FBI and Oregon State Police trucks stopped them at about 4:25 p.m. Jan. 26. Most of the people surrendered. Mark McConnell, who was driving one of the militants’ vehicles, said the truck driven by Finicum, with Ryan Payne and others, tried to speed away and eventually ran off the road at a roadblock about a mile away from the first vehicle, stuck in a snowbank on the side of the highway with its wheels still spinning.

McConnell posted a video on his Facebook site saying Finicum charged law enforcement officers and was shot.



COURTESY OF MCSO; MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Militants arrested Tuesday, Jan. 26, were (top row) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox, (bottom row) Ryan Payne, Joseph O'Shaughnessy and Pete Santilli. They are being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center. Jon Ritzheimer was being held in an Arizona jail, where he turned himself in Tuesday night in a Phoenix suburb.

After the shooting, Finicum and Ryan Bundy were taken for treatment to Harney District Hospital in Burns, which was locked down.

Highway 395 near U.S. 20 was closed by law enforcement officers for several hours.

Also arrested were 43-year-old Ryan C. Bundy of Bunkerville, Nevada; 44-year-old Brian Cavalier of Bunkerville, Nevada; 59-year-old Shawna Cox of Kanab, Utah; and 32-year-old Ryan Waylen Payne of Anaconda, Mont.

In a separate arrest in Burns, Oregon State Police arrested 45-year-old Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy of Cottonwood, Ariz.

At about 6:30 p.m., Internet radio talk show host Peter Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati, was arrested by FBI agents in Burns. Santilli, who supports the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom cause, has broadcast an online talk show every day of the 25-day occupation.

A couple hours later, 32-year-old Jon E. Ritzheimer, one of the group occupying the wildlife refuge, turned himself in to police at the Peoria, Ariz., police department.

All of those arrested face federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

The Deschutes County Major Incident Team will assist the Oregon State Police and the Harney County district attorney's office with an investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

Most of the militants are being held in the Multnomah County Detention Center. They will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 27, in federal court.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Jon E. Ritzheimer, one of the group occupying the wildlife refuge, turned himself in to police at the Peoria, Ariz., police department

Brown, Merkley praise action

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said he was “pleased that the FBI has listened to the concerns of the local community and responded to the illegal activity.”

“The leaders of this group are now in custody and I hope that the remaining individuals occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will peacefully surrender so this community can begin to heal the deep wounds that this illegal activity has created over the last month,” Merkley said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “The locally elected leaders and state, local and federal law enforcement are to be commended for their close coordination in working to address this crisis.”

Gov. Kate Brown, who asked federal officials last week for a “swift end” to the occupation, said Tuesday evening that Oregonians should be patient “as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”

“My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities,” Brown said in a statement.


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