BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The FBI has arrested the leaders of an armed group that has occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks. Here is a rundown of how the arrests and their aftermath:
Militant leader Ammon Bundy and his followers were reportedly heading to a community meeting Tuesday in a small community near the wildlife refuge to explain to local residents their views on federal management of public lands. In a statement, the FBI and Oregon State Police said police arrested Ammon Bundy, his brother, Ryan, and three others during a traffic stop north of Burns. Authorities said an adult male suspect was killed and another suffered non-life threatening injuries when shots were fired. Authorities didn’t identify the person killed, but the Oregonian reports it was an Arizona rancher. Arianna Finicum Brown told the newspaper that the man killed was her father — 55-year-old Robert “LaVoy” Finicum of Cane Beds, Arizona. LaVoy Finicum was a frequent and public presence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, often speaking
WHY DID AUTHORITIES TAKE ACTION NOW?
The FBI didn’t say Tuesday, although federal officials had come under increasing pressure from Oregon’s governor and local leaders to do something. Bundy’s group had been free to come and go. They’d held frequent news conferences at the site, travelled to meet with sympathizers and others to espouse their views and some even attended a community meeting last week, where local residents shouted at them to leave. Bundy had been in contact with an FBI negotiator and local law enforcement.
HOW DID THIS BEGIN?
The group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 after a peaceful protest in nearby Burns, Oregon, over the conviction of two local ranchers on arson charges. Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires. The two were convicted three years ago. But in October, a federal judge ruled their terms were too short under U.S. law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each. Among the demands by the Bundy group is for the Hammonds to be released.
WHAT CHARGES DO THOSE ARRESTED FACE?
The FBI said the people 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.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE REFUGE NOW?
It was unclear how many people remained in the buildings at the refuge. Late Tuesday night there was no obvious police presence there and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked for “patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”
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