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Shots fired, 1 killed in arrest of Oregon militants


    Ammon Bundy. Authorities say shots were fired during the arrest of members of an armed group that has occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks.

BURNS, Ore. >> Federal and state law officers arrested the leaders of an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge, during a traffic stop along a highway in Oregon’s frozen high country that prompted gunfire and left one man dead.

Militant leader Ammon Bundy and his followers were reportedly heading to a community meeting at the senior center Tuesday in John Day, about 70 miles north of Burns, to address local residents to discuss their views on federal management of public lands.

In a statement, the FBI and Oregon State Police said agents had made a total of eight arrests — including Ammon Bundy.

Oregon State Police confirmed that its troopers were involved in the traffic-stop shooting. One of those arrested, described only as a man, suffered non-life-threatening wounds, the agencies said. Another man “who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest” was killed, they said. The agencies said they would not release further information pending identification by the medical examiner.

The Oregonian reported that Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was the person killed, citing the man’s daughter. The 55-year-old was a frequent and public presence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, often speaking for the group at news conferences.

Arianna Finicum Brown confirmed her father’s death to the paper, saying “he would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved.”

It was unclear how many people remained in the buildings at the refuge. 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.

In addition to Ammon Bundy, those arrested were: his brother Ryan Bundy, 43; Brian Cavalier, 44; Shawna Cox, 59; and Ryan Payne, 32 – apprehended during the traffic stop on U.S. Highway 395 Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said two others — Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, and Peter Santilli, 50 — were arrested separately in Burns, while FBI agents in Arizona arrested another, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32.

Each will 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. Authorities released few other details. A new conference with the FBI, local sheriff and other was scheduled for late Wednesday morning.

Ammon Bundy’s group, which has included people from as far away as Arizona and Michigan, seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 as part of a long-running dispute over public lands in the West.

The confrontation came amid increasing calls for law enforcement to take action against Bundy for the illegal occupation of the wildlife refuge. They previously had taken a hands-off approach, reflecting lessons learned during bloody standoffs at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, during the 1990s.

Many residents of Harney County, where the refuge is located, have been among those demanding that Bundy leave. Many sympathize with his criticism of federal land management policies of public lands but opposed the refuge takeover. They feared violence could erupt.

“I am pleased that the FBI has listened to the concerns of the local community and responded to the illegal activity occurring in Harney County by outside extremists,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement. ” I hope that the remaining individuals occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will peacefully surrender.”

The Bundys are the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.

The state police said it would investigate the officer-involved shooting.

The militants, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, 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.

Specifically, the group wanted federal lands turned over to local authorities. The U.S. government controls about half of all land in the West. Conflicts over Western land use stretch back decades.

In the 1970s, Nevada and other states pushed for local control in what was known as the Sagebrush Rebellion. Supporters wanted more land for cattle grazing, mining and timber harvesting.

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    • so this is a democrat/republican thing. what does this have to do with gun control? if you liberals don’t want guns, fine, don’t own guns. but don’t push your liberal values on the rest of us. if you don’t like our constitution, leave the country and go to the UK, Japan or some other country where they don’t allow citizens to own guns. believe me, I won’t miss you.

  • ..”Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them..”

  • They were arrested during a traffic stop? What kind of “occupation” of a federal building is that? If you’re going to take over and occupy a building in protest of something, stay there and stick it out for the duration. Taking over a building to make a statement and obtain concessions is no time to be going holoholo.

      • An American who participates in the armed invasion and occupation of a Federal office has a somewhat different classification than would a non-signaling lane-changer. If you think otherwise then, by all means reserve your judgement for as long as you like. Forever, in fact.

        • You must have a lot more information at your disposal than the rest of us. Do you have any evidence that the dead man actually participated, “in the armed invasion and occupation of a Federal office”? I did not see anything like that in the article. Please feel free to share your info.

        • The article stated that the person killed “…was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest.” Maybe it was a coincidence he was there in traffic amongst the government land lawbreakers, or maybe not. Either way, the officers concluded their traffic stop with him, and allowed him to proceed into the afterlife.

    • The issues need to be addressed in a legal, constitutional way. Work through the system.

      I do think if these men were not white they might have more sympathy however.

  • Suicide by cop — that’s what the guy who died said he wanted – he said he’d rather die than go to jail. Unfortunately he also put his friends and the law enforcement officers at risk — I’m glad that none of them were also killed.I’m sure the local people in Oregon will be glad to have these people out of their wildlife refuge.

  • Shouldn’t the others be charged for the man’s death? There was a case somewhere on the mainland where a robber was charged with murder because his partner was killed by the police. The legal theory was that you are responsible for any deaths that result from your felony. If this group is being charged with a felony (which the paper says they are), then they should also be charged with LaVoy’s murder.

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