On day before his death, Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum spoke about potential encounters with feds
Oregon standoff spokesman Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum killed, Bundys in custody after shooting near Burns
BURNS – Oregon standoff spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed and other leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation were arrested Tuesday after the FBI and state police stopped vehicles about 20 miles north of Burns.
Authorities did not release the name of the person who died at the highway stop, but Finicum’s daughter confirmed it was Finicum, 55, of Cane Beds, Arizona, one of the cowboy-hat wearing faces of the takeover.
“My dad was such a good good man, through and through,” said Arianna Finicum Brown, 26, one of Finicum’s 11 children. “He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved.”
Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., suffered a minor gunshot wound in the confrontation about 4:30 p.m. along U.S. 395. He was treated and released from a local hospital and was in FBI custody, authorities said.
Also arrested during the stop were his brother, Ammon Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho, Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont., Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada, and Shawna J. Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah. They were charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony.
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said that Ammon Bundy called his wife, Lisa Bundy, from the back of a police car on Tuesday night.
Fiore, a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy told his wife that Finicum was cooperating with police when he was shot.
But sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest. No other details were available.
Finicum on Monday said an interview that “the tenor has changed” between the occupiers and federal authorities.
At the refuge Tuesday evening, occupier Jason Patrick reported no unusual activity. “It’s pretty quiet here,” Patrick said. He said no one was leaving as of 6 p.m.Hours later, Patrick said the refuge remained quiet but “we’re all standing here ready to defend our peaceful resolution.” He wouldn’t elaborate.
In the meantime, Operation Mutual Defense, a network of militias and patriot sympathizers, issued a call on its website for help at the refuge. The post was written by Gary Hunt, a board member from California who has expressed support for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City and had ties to the patriot movement.
“You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge) immediately,” Hunt wrote. “If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false.”
In Burns, Oregon State Police also arrested Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 45, Cottonwood, Arizona, known in militia circles as “Captain,” and Pete Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati, an independent broadcaster known for his aggressive manner and live streaming refuge events. They face conspiracy charges of impeding federal officers.
Jon Ritzheimer, 32, a key militant leader, surrendered to police in Arizona on the conspiracy charge. He gained national fame for complaining on a video about the delivery of sex toys to the refuge in response to the occupiers’ plea for supplies.
Gov. Kate Brown called for calm late Tuesday night.
“The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress,” she said in a statement. “My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”
Little detail was available about the dramatic finish to the free-roaming ways of the militant leaders. State police said troopers were involved in the shooting and that one person died, another suffered non-life-threatening injuries and no police were hurt.
The militants seized the wildlife refuge on Jan. 2, insisting they wouldn’t leave until their demands were met, including the freeing of two Harney County ranchers jailed on federal arson charges.
One militant on Tuesday afternoon posted a video of Ammon Bundy talking earlier in the day with an FBI negotiator identified only as “Chris.” The two have been negotiating since last week, with Bundy dictating the circumstances under which he would talk and what the group wanted.
The leaders were on the highway bound for John Day, where they were scheduled to participate in an evening community meeting set up by local residents. A crowd of several hundred had gathered at the John Day Senior Center and were subsequently told the the “guest speakers” would not be appearing.
The highway was blocked for a 40-mile stretch between Burns and John Day. Police were stationed near Seneca, a small city of 200 south of John Day, with long guns. They said they didn’t know how long the roadblock would be place. Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer was there.
Palmer two weeks ago had met with Payne and Ritzheimer. He later publicly declared that Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, should be freed from federal prison to help end the standoff. Palmer also has recommended that the FBI leave the Harney County scene and turn the matter to local police.
The armed militants took over the vacant headquarters compound at the refuge. They have been using refuge buildings for meetings and lodging, posting armed security guards.
The occupiers have been moving without police interference between the refuge and Burns, even attending a county-sponsored community meeting at the Burns High School a week ago. Police estimated at least 50 militants scattered through the crowd of about 400 people.
The dramatic event came days after public officials had gone public complaining about the apparent inaction by law enforcement. The governor had complained directly to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey as well as the White House. On Monday, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, who chairs the county commission, also publicly urged police to resolve the occupation.
Payne and Bundy have been in and out of Harney County since November, aroused by the sentencing of the Hammonds. In October, they were ordered back to federal prison to finish five-year terms for deliberating starting fires that burned federal land in 2001 and 2006. Bundy and his followers had demanded that Harney County Sheriff David Ward protect the ranchers from having to surrender, a demand Ward rejected.
Payne and other militia met local residents in an informal meeting on New Year’s Day in Burns, vowing they had peaceful intentions. The next day, about 300 people – a mix of militia and local residents – paraded in protest through downtown Burns, stopping at the sheriff’s office and then stopping at the home of Dwight Hammond and his wife Susan.
That afternoon, a splinter group of militants drove out to the refuge, left vacant after federal authorities warned employees to stay away over safety concerns. Later, Payne confirmed in interviews with The Oregonian/OregonLive that the group had long planned to seize the refuge.
Besides demanding freedom for the Hammonds, the Bundy group wanted the refuge turned over to prior private owners and to the county. They insist that the federal government has no constitutional authority to control land in Harney County, a county that measures 10,000 square miles. The federal government controls 76 percent. The Bundy group also has encouraged ranchers to renounced their federal grazing permits, showcasing a New Mexico rancher Saturday at the refuge who did just that.
— Laura Gunderson, Carli Brosseau, Denis Theriault, Luke Hammill, Elliot Njus, Anna Marum, and Ian Kullgren of The Oregonian contributed to this post.