FBI says it has surrounded last occupiers at Oregon refuge
PORTLAND, Ore. — The FBI surrounded the last four occupiers of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon on Wednesday night as the holdouts argued with a negotiator and yelled at law enforcement officers in armored vehicles to back off.
The tense standoff between law enforcement officers and the four occupiers was being livestreamed on the Internet by an acquaintance of one of the holdouts, David Fry.
Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator.
“You’re going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with,” he said. “We’re innocent people camping at a public facility, and you’re going to murder us.”
“The only way we’re leaving here is dead or without charges,” Fry said, who told the FBI to “get the hell out of Oregon.”
Fry said the group was surrounded by armored vehicles.
Fry and the three others are the last remnants of an armed group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land-use policies. The three others are Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada; and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho
Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement that the situation had reached a point where it “became necessary to take action” to ensure the safety of all involved.
The four remained despite the arrests of group leader Ammon Bundy and others Jan. 26 on a remote road outside the refuge.
Sandy Anderson said after the group was surrounded: “They’re threatening us. They’re getting closer. I pray that there’s a revolution if we die here tonight.”
Her husband, Sean Anderson, said in the livestream: “We will not fire until fired upon. We haven’t broken any laws, came here to recognize our constitutional rights. Help us.”
The occupiers said they saw snipers on a hill and a drone.
The standoff was occurring on the 40th day of the occupation, launched by Ammon Bundy and his followers to protest prison terms for two local ranchers on arson charges and federal management of public lands.
Bundy was arrested on Jan. 26 on a remote road as he and other main figures of the occupation were traveling to the town of John Day. Four others were also arrested in that confrontation, which resulted in the shooting death of the group’s spokesman, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. The FBI said Finicum was reaching for a gun.
Most of the occupiers fled the refuge after that. Authorities then surrounded the property and later got the holdouts added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
The four recently posted a series of defiant videos in which Fry shows a defensive perimeter they have built and takes a joyride in a government vehicle. Fry says the FBI told him he faces additional charges because of the barricades.
At first, Bundy urged the last holdouts to go home. But in response to the grand jury indictment, he took a more defiant tone from jail.
“Taking over the refuge was not only right, it was the duty of the people to do,” Bundy said in a recording released by his family on Feb. 4.
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