Oregon standoff: Holdouts offer to leave if none are charged
Nicholas K. Geranios and Terrence Petty, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, January 28, 2016 3:41AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:08PM EST
BURNS, Ore. -- One of the last holdouts in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge said Thursday the remaining five occupiers will leave if they receive assurances none of them will be arrested.
In a video posted on YouTube, a speaker believed to be David Fry said the occupiers have been told by authorities that "out of five people left here, four of us are allowed to leave."
The FBI had no immediate comment on the demand. It has said only that it is trying to "empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible."
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was taken over Jan. 2 by ranchers and others demanding the federal government turn public lands over to local control.
The group's leader, Ammon Bundy, and 10 others have been arrested over the past couple of days, most of them in a traffic stop Tuesday night that erupted in gunfire and left one follower dead.
After Bundy made his first court appearance on Wednesday, his attorney, Mike Arnold, read a statement from his client: "Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is now in the courts."
Ammon is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
Bundy and the seven others arrested Tuesday are charged with felony counts of "conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats." Three others were arrested Wednesday.
The criminal complaint says the 16 employees at the wildlife refuge "have been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence posed by the defendants and others occupying the property."
Details have begun to emerge about the confrontation Tuesday on a remote highway that resulted in the death of militant Robert Finicum.
Bundy followers gave conflicting accounts of how Finicum died. One said Finicum charged at FBI agents, who then shot him. A member of the Bundy family said Finicum did nothing to provoke the agents.
Authorities refused to release any details about the encounter or even to verify that it was Finicum who was killed.
Associated Press writers Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, and Martha Bellisle and Lisa Baumann in Seattle contributed to this report.