Oregon militia standoff: Last occupier surrenders to FBI
No injuries reported, no shots fired, says FBI
David Fry, the remaining occupier at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, said on an online live stream on Thursday that he had surrendered, after a 41-day armed standoff with law enforcement.
Fry's phone connection to the live stream appeared to become disconnected after his statement.
The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning after the FBI and other officers in armoured vehicles surrounded them in a tense standoff.
The developments came as Cliven Bundy — who led a Nevada standoff with federal officers in 2014 and who is also the father of the jailed leader of the Oregon standoff — was arrested in Portland.
The four occupiers yelled at officers to back off and prayed with supporters over an open phone line as the standoff played out on the internet Wednesday night, live streamed by an acquaintance of occupier Fry.
Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unravelled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator. "You're going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with," he said. "We're innocent people camping at a public facility, and you're going to murder us."
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"The only way we're leaving here is dead or without charges," Fry said, who told the FBI to "get the hell out of Oregon."
Fry and the three others were the last remnants of a group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land-use policies. The three others are Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nev.; and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho.
Fry said Wednesday the group was surrounded by armoured vehicles.
Sean Anderson said late Wednesday he spoke with the FBI and that he and the three other holdouts would turn themselves in at a nearby FBI checkpoint at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement the situation had reached a point where it "became necessary to take action" to ensure the safety of all involved.
Charges previously filed against 16
Bretzing said one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside "the barricades established by the militia" at the refuge. When FBI agents tried to approach the driver, Fry said he returned to the camp at a "high rate of speed."
The FBI placed agents at barricades ahead of and behind the occupier's camp, Bretzing said.
"It has never been the FBI's desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully," he said in a statement.
There were no injuries during the surrender and no shots were fired, the FBI said.
Authorities had for weeks allowed the occupiers to come and go freely from the remote refuge, leading to criticism from local and state officials that law enforcement wasn't doing enough to end the situation.
Group leader Ammon Bundy and others were arrested Jan. 26 on a remote road outside the refuge, but the four holdouts remained.
On Wednesday night, Sandy Anderson said after the group was surrounded: "They're threatening us. They're getting closer. I pray that there's a revolution if we die here tonight."
Her husband, Sean Anderson, said in the live stream: "We will not fire until fired upon. We haven't broken any laws, came here to recognize our constitutional rights."
The occupiers said they saw snipers on a hill and a drone.
The standoff came to an end on the 41st day of the occupation launched by Bundy and his followers to protest prison terms for two local ranchers on arson charges and federal management of public lands.
Bundy was arrested last month as he and other main figures of the occupation were travelling to the town of John Day. Four others were also arrested in that confrontation, which resulted in the shooting death of the group's spokesman, Robert (LaVoy) Finicum. The FBI said Finicum was reaching for a gun.
Most of the occupiers fled the refuge after that. Authorities then surrounded the property and later got the holdouts added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
At first, Bundy urged the last holdouts to go home. But in response to the grand jury indictment, he took a more defiant tone from jail.
With files from Reuters