Four holdouts are all that remain of the armed militant group occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and they don’t intend to leave unless federal authorities drop charges against one member of the group and agree not to arrest anyone, the Associated Press reports.
Eight members of the motley gang of ranchers and anti-government activists, including leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were arrested following a confrontation with authorities on Tuesday.
Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who acted as the group’s spokesperson, was killed in the confrontation, and Ryan Bundy suffered a minor gunshot wound in the arm. Three more were arrested on Wednesday as Bundy urged his followers to go home.
The holdouts — identified as David Fry of Ohio, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Nevada — have been posting videos on YouTube saying they want to leave, but the FBI first has to give them assurances they won’t be arrested. Sean Anderson has a federal warrant out for his arrest
“We’re asking, just drop the charges and we’re willing to go,” a speaker, believed to be Fry, says in one video. “But if they’re not willing to do that, we’re all just willing to stay here and see what happens.”
Also on Thursday, the FBI released aerial footage of Finicum’s death and the events leading up to it. The video shows Finicum driving up to a roadblock in a white truck and almost hitting an FBI agent as he swerves to try to drive around it. He then exits the truck and is shot dead by Oregon State Police troopers.
In a press statement, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said that Finicum was shot after reaching for his weapon: “Agents and troopers on scene had information that Finicum and others would be armed. On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket.” The FBI and state police also found three other loaded weapons inside the truck.
The militants occupied the wildlife refuge on January 2 to protest what they consider to be overreaching federal-land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of arson for setting fires that spread to public land.