A self-avowed anti-Islam activist who allegedly participated in the militiamen occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon has been arrested.
Authorities released a statement Tuesday night announcing that the FBI’s Phoenix Division took Ritzheimer into custody Tuesday night “on a federal charge related to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”
According to the statement, Ritzheimer surrendered to police in Peoria, Arizona, after the militia’s leader, Ammon Bundy, and several others were arrested in eastern Oregon.
Police say Ritzheimer was taken into custody without incident.
He’s being held on a felony charge in connection with the takeover of the federal facility in Oregon.
Ritzheimer posted a message on Facebook Tuesday night asking for donations and legal help before surrendering:
In the post, he says he returned to Arizona to visit his family, and acknowledged that “The Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in.”
Federal authorities had been watching Ritzheimer closely in recent weeks, after he aligned himself with the militiamen who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early January.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Heidi Beirich with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project called Ritzheimer “unhinged,” and said “he’s potentially very dangerous … He’s rabid about everything.”
Ritzheimer first became nationally known in May last year when he organised an anti-Islam rally that was held in front of a mosque in Phoenix. At the time, Ritzheimer called it a “freedom of speech” rally to “push out the truth about Islam,” and encouraged participants to “utilise their Second Amendment rights” while at the gathering.
When local government and civil rights groups overwhelmingly decried the rally, Ritzheimer declared “I can’t let my kids grow up in a society where tyranny is reigning over,” and asked for donations so his family could “go into hiding.”
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