Oregon Standoff: Five Arrested, One Dead
The occupation continues, despite the arrests of leaders and deathBy Crawford Coates | Jan 29, 2016
During a traffic stop on Tuesday, police arrested five militia members, including leader Ammon Bundy, the group’s leader. But the incident ended with LaVoy Finicum shot and killed. Although initially reticent, late Thursday police released video, shot from a plane, of the incident that clarifies some of what happened.
Here’s what seems to have taken place.
Seven people were driving from the refuge to the town of John Day, along Highway 395, in two SUVs when police attempted to stop them. A Jeep carried Ammon Bundy and Brian Cavalier, both of whom face federal charges, and a driver who does not, who all exited the vehicle without incident.
But a white truck, driven by Finicum, continued on. Eventually it stopped further down the road. Police approached and gave commands to the passengers. (Ryan Payne left the truck.) Then the driver sped off down the deserted road.
As Finicum neared a roadblock made up of three trucks, he veered left, trying to get around them, but his truck lodged in a snowdrift and he nearly struck an FBI agent. Finicum, 55, exited the car almost immediately, with his hands up. He initially walked away from officers but then he reached for his pocket. An Oregon state trooper shot him from trees across the road.
“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-millimeter semiautomatic handgun in that pocket,” said Special Agent Greg Bretzing. Officials found three loaded guns in the truck, including two .223 caliber semi-automatic rifles and a .38 special revolver.
The group is part of a rump militia that has occupied the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge since Jan. 2, 2016. They split off from a peaceful group that had marched in protest of the prison sentences of rancher Dwight Hammond and his son Steven for arson on federal land.
Ammon Bundy, a car fleet manager in Phoenix, claims to have received divine messages to occupy the refuge and has demanded that the government cede the land to the protestors. His day in court, like his fate and that of his brethren in arms, is not yet known.
At the time of this writing, four occupiers remain on refuge property. One of them, Sean Anderson, has a warrant for his arrest, and the remaining three say they will leave if Anderson is not arrested.