FBI: No rigged explosives found at Oregon standoff site
Lights are seen from the Narrows roadblock near Burns, Ore., as FBI agents have surrounded the remaining four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. (Thomas Boyd / The Oregonian)
Rebecca Boone, The Associated Press
Published Friday, February 12, 2016 6:03AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 12, 2016 5:01PM EST
BURNS, Ore. -- FBI officials said Friday they haven't found any rigged explosives or booby traps at the national wildlife refuge in Oregon that had been seized by an armed group.
Authorities allowed a group of reporters to get closer to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where the last four occupiers surrendered Thursday. The tour stopped short of the refuge itself.
The armed protesters had blockaded the road near the refuge using a government-owned heavy front-end loader and two pickup trucks. A group of tents and pickup trucks was clustered on a small rise far beyond the road barrier. Larry Karl, the assistant special agent in charge of the Portland FBI, said the tents made up the "shantytown" where the last four holdouts at the refuge spent most of their time.
Greg Bretzinger, the special agent in charge of the Portland FBI, said investigators have begun their sweep of the property. Karl said that process is still ongoing, however, but they hoped to finish the safety sweep of the buildings and begin processing evidence sometime Friday afternoon.
There was flammable liquid and hazardous materials stored at the site before the armed takeover, Karl said, and the FBI had information that "certain materials" might have been brought to the refuge by the protesters.
"So until we are able to go through the refuge and see what conditions those items are in, that they're properly secured and stored, or what has been brought on that we don't know about," the evidence collection will have to wait, Karl said.
He said the FBI would work closely with the Burns-Paiute Tribe, archaeological experts, federal land managers and others while they processed the crime scene
The holdouts who surrendered Friday were the last remnants of a larger group that seized the property on Jan. 2, demanding the U.S. turn over public lands to locals and exposing simmering anger over the government's control of vast expanses of Western range.
David Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio; Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada; and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho were expected to make an initial court appearance Friday. At least 25 people have now been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to impede employees at the refuge from performing their duties.