Oregon protest leader Ammon Bundy, others arrested; one person killed
OREGON — 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: 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, a sixth person — Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy — was arrested in Burns, authorities said.
All six 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 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.”