The siege of a federal wildlife refuge in a remote part of eastern Oregon appeared to come to its conclusion Thursday, as the final four occupiers reportedly surrendered after a 41-day standoff with federal officials.
The end of the siege on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, was broadcast on a YouTube livestream. After arrests last month, including of the group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, just four people remained at the location.
A law-enforcement official said the armed occupation ended peacefully, according to The Washington Post.
Three of the four remaining occupiers surrendered on Thursday without incident. But the fourth, David Fry, repeatedly insisted he wouldn’t surrender until federal officials heard out his grievances.
“I don’t want to be put behind bars,” he said at one point. “I don’t want to take that risk. … I didn’t kill anybody.”
Just before 11 a.m. PT, Fry’s arrest could be heard on the livestream.
The four occupiers will stand before a federal judge Friday in Portland. Each faces one felony count of conspiracy, the FBI said.
“The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe,” Billy J. Williams, the US attorney in Oregon, said in an FBI statement. “It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbours and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal.”
“Much work is left to assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts,” he continued. “We are committed to seeing the job done and to pursue justice for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation.”
Earlier on Thursday, Cliven Bundy was charged with assault and conspiracy in connection with his 2014 standoff with federal officials near his Nevada ranch, The Associated Press reported.
Bundy, 74, is the father of Oregon “militia” leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, who were arrested for their role in this year’s Oregon standoff.
The eldest Bundy was arrested Wednesday after he arrived at the Portland International Airport, according to The Associated Press.
In March 2014, Bundy held his own armed standoff with federal officials over grazing rights on federally controlled land. The dispute is still unresolved.
Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan were arrested on January 26, along with several other occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. After being pulled over by federal agents, a shootout ensued. Ryan Bundy suffered a gunshot wound and Robert “Lavoy” Finicum was killed.
“This is a total disaster to be happening in America,” Cliven told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after news of the arrests and shootout broke.
“We have, I’m guessing, federal people killing innocent people,” he added. “I’ll tell you one thing, my sons and those who were there were there to do good, no harm was intended, they would never threaten anybody, they was trying to teach people about the Constitution and trying to help the Hammond family, trying to make sure this type of abuse didn’t happen in America and yet, it did.”
The standoff in Oregon began January 2 when an armed group led by Ammon Bundy took control of the refuge to protest the sentences of two men who set fire to federal land, Dwight and Steven Hammond.
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