UPDATED: January 28, 2016 9:00 AM EST
A day after Ammon Bundy, the leader of a militant group currently occupying a federal building in Oregon, was arrested during a traffic stop, the son of infamous rancher Cliven Bundy has asked members to stand down.
In a statement released through his attorney, Bundy asked those still occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “go home and hug” their families. During Tuesday’s traffic stop, one member – identified as standoff spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum – was fatally shot.
“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,” Bundy said in a statement. “This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”
“We need to step back. Somebody died yesterday,” attorney Mike Arnold told reporters. “Mr. Bundy wants everybody to remember that somebody died, and this is not just about him right now.”
Harney County Sheriff David Ward has blamed the fatality on the occupiers, CNN reports.
“Multiple agencies put a lot of work into this to put the best tactical plan that they could to arrest them peacefully,” said Ward. “(The death) didn’t have to happen. We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad.”
Still, members of the militant group claim they will continue their occupation, despite three more arrests on Wednesday.
From the NYT:
Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, the F.B.I. said that it had arrested three of the protesters at the checkpoints — Mr. Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Ga.; Duane Leo Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, Ore.; and Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah.
All had turned themselves in, officials said. They, along with the eight protesters arrested earlier, will face a federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.
Following a weeks-long standoff between a militia in Oregon and the federal government over land rights, multiple members of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife refuge were arrested, including Bundy brothers Ammon and Ryan.
One member, identified by his daughter as Oregon standoff spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was fatally shot. Ryan Bundy sustained a minor gunshot wound and was later treated at a local hospital. He remains in FBI custody.
The standoff, which comes weeks after the militia occupied the federal building — first in solidarity with two ranchers convicted of arson on federal land and then, as “a place for individuals across the United States to come and assist in helping the people of Harney County claim back their lands and resources,” according to Ammon Bundy — began around 4:25 p.m. Tuesday, when federal officials took militia members into custody during a traffic stop 20 miles from the refuge.
During the operation, shots were fired. It’s unclear, however, how the situation unfolded. Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a supporter of the Bundy brothers, said Ammon maintains Finicum was cooperating with police when he was shot. The outspoken Bundy, who has become the face of the latest battle over federal land, was able to call his wife from the back of a police car after the apprehension. Bundy and the group were traveling to John Day, Oregon about 70 miles away for an appearance where he was to be the guest speaker, the NY Times reports.
But his accounts differ from sources who told OregonLive that Bundy and Finicum “disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest.”
Police remain mum on both details regarding the arrests and the plan to move other militia members from the building. Since Jan. 2, a few dozen men and one woman have occupied the space with little to no police interference.
The seven arrested face felony charges of “conspiracy to impede officers in the United States from discharging their official duties through use of force, intimidation, or threats,” ABC News reports.
The FBI’s Phoenix Division also made a probable cause arrest in Arizona. Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, was arrested on a federal charge related to the armed occupation of Malheur after turning himself in to the Peoria, Arizona, police department. He 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, according to an FBI statement.
The Bundy brothers are sons of Cliven Bundy, the rancher infamous for his own armed standoff with federal agents over cattle-grazing rights in 2014.
You can find more information on the Oregon militia’s occupation, here.
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