Leaders of the Malheur Occupation Arrested

Horned lark at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS volunteer.
Horned lark at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS volunteer.

At 11 a.m. PST January 27, law enforcement officials gave a press conference to discuss the latest developments in the armed occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing confirmed that a total of eight people were arrested, and one was killed during a traffic stop. While his identity will not be made official until the medical examiner’s office issues its report, several news agencies have reported it was LaVoy Finicum, a spokesman for the group.

Bretzing noted that law enforcement officials made every attempt to bring the occupation to a peaceful end.

“(The occupiers) had ample opportunity to leave peacefully,” he said.

Bretzing also noted six people remain at the refuge, and it is unclear at this point what will happen next.

Harney County Sherriff Dave Ward gave a passionate plea for the remaining occupiers to leave the refuge.

“It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on,” Ward said. “There doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community, noting that if people have issues with local, state or federal government, they must act responsibly. “We don’t arm up and rebel,” he said.

“This can’t happen anymore; it can’t happen in America and can’t happen in Harney County.”

The crowd gathered at the press conference broke out into applause.

With armed occupiers still at the refuge, roads remain blocked and various law enforcement agencies are working in cooperation to ensure the safety of everyone in the community.

Jan. 27 10:25 a.m. EST

As news unfolds that the leaders of the Malheur occupation have been arrested, and one was killed in a confrontation with police, we are cognizant that occupiers still remain at the refuge, and the standoff is not over.

We’re still deeply concerned for the safety of our colleagues at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and want you all to know that we support you during this difficult time.

We regret that there has been any loss of life, and we are still are hopeful that law enforcement officials will end this standoff peacefully today.

It’s premature for us to say much more at this time, as we understand that the law enforcement operation is ongoing. We’ll post again when we learn more.


Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2016/01/leaders-of-the-malheur-occupation-arrested/


  1. TOM ALTIF says:

    Law Enforcement made every effort to reach a peaceful resolution to this illegal occupation. Unfortunately, their efforts were stymied by a person brandishing a firearm. These terrorist need to understand this is not a game. Having been involved in a similar situation, while a Federal Law Enforcement Officer in the Orlando, Florida area, my first duty was to protect the Agency Employees. We eventually made the arrest of the Militia Member with the aide of the U S Marshall Service and the Sheriff’s Office through the utilization of a traffic stop ruse.

    I would like to thank all the Fish and Wildlife Service Employees for their dedicated work.


  2. Jim Doherty says:

    In the N.Y. Times yesterday. Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticizes federal agencies– the SEC, among them– for lax enforcement of their own regulations and laws. She neglected to mention Malheur, where federal authorities tolerated the Bundys and other flagrant lawbreakers for 11 days before showing up only after local law enforcers finally initiated action. It’s an old story at Malheur, where more than 30 years ago the USFW transferred the refuge manager, for his own safety, rather than take action against the ranchers who had threatened his life and shot up his vehicle. For that matter, it’s an old story for the entire refuge system. Sen. Warren postulates that personnel– those who head up agencies– equals policy. That, as any refuge manager knows, is wrong. Politics equals policy. The failure to move promptly against the lawbreakers at Malheur represented a failure of nerve at the highest level. No surprise. Refuge managers have always been inhibited by and subject to Congressional pressure, second-guessing and recrimination, all of which is linked, of course, to the budgetary process. Yes? No? It would be interesting to hear some other voices on this!

  3. Richard Spotts says:

    I totally agree with the two previous commenters. The FBI and Justice Department share responsibility for the Malheur Refuge occupation and growing threats posed by dangerous militia members in the West. No enforcement actions were taken after the April 2014 Cliven Bundy Bunkerville standoff, where armed militia pointed loaded weapons at law enforcement officers who unsuccessfully tried to implement a federal court-ordered roundup of trespass livestock. This trespass grazing had gone on for over twenty years in threatened Mojave desert tortoise habitat and in violation of a long list of laws, and where Cliven Bundy did not pay a penny in grazing fees. The standoff was a “victory” for the militia and a “defeat” for the rule of law. Why hasn’t Cliven Bundy been arrested and incarcerated until his trespass livestock have been rounded up and sold? Why have no liens been placed on his real and personal property to ensure that he pays back what he owes to American taxpayers? Why have militia members who pointed loaded weapons at law enforcement officers not been arrested and prosecuted? Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bodgen should be held accountable for their gross dereliction of duty.

  4. Richard Spotts says:

    By the way, Ammon and Ryan Bundy and LeVoy Finecum were all involved in the April 2014 standoff. Had they been arrested afterwards, and had to answer for their lawless conduct then, it is doubtful that the Malheur occupation would have ever taken place. I hope that the FBI and Justice Department are paying attention now, and have learned that ignoring these dangerous lunatics only emboldens them and makes threats to federal employees and public safety worse.

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