Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One dead at Oregon armed standoff; leader behind bars, but occupation continues

The armed standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Harney County, Oregon, turned violent Tuesday, with one person dead, another wounded and the group's leader behind bars, Les Zaitz reports for The Oregonian. Standoff spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed, and Ryan Bundy, brother of leader Ammon Bundy, was treated and released from a hospital with a gunshot wound. The Bundys and five others were "charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony." They were on their way to a community meeting set up by local residents when stopped by law enforcement.

While authorities last night did not release the name of the person killed, Finicum's daughter Arianna Finicum Brown confirmed he was the one killed, Zaitz writes. She told Zaitz, "My dad was such a good, good man, through and through. He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom, and he knew the risks involved." (Oregonian graphic)
There are conflicting reports on the events that led to the shootings, Zaitz writes. Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy called his wife Lisa from the back of the police car, telling her that "Finicum was cooperating with police when he was shot. But sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest."

While occupiers remained at the refuge peacefully demonstrating, Operation Mutual Defense, "a network of militias and patriot sympathizers, issued a call on its website for help at the refuge," Zatiz writes. "The post was written by Gary Hunt, a board member from California who has expressed support for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City and had ties to the patriot movement. He wrote: 'You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge) immediately. If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty and property were false.'"

Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement Tuesday: "The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress. My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution." (Read more)

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