Cliven Bundy Arrested; Oregon Refuge Standoff Ending?
BURNS, Oregon - The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning after the FBI surrounded them and they yelled at law enforcement officers in armored vehicles to back off and prayed with supporters over an open phone line.
Late Wednesday night, Cliven Bundy was arrested by FBI agents and brought to Multnomah County (Oregon) Jail, CBS News confirmed.
Bundy is a Nevada rancher who was at the center of a 2014 armed standoff with federal authorities over grazing rights on government land, and the father of Ammon Bundy, the jailed leader of the refuge occupation. Ammon's brother, another occupier, is also jailed.
Les Zaitz, an investigative reporter for The Oregonian newspaper, tweeted that Cliven Bundy was being held on federal charges related to the 2014 standoff, including conspiracy to interfere with federal officers -- the same charge his sons face for the Oregon takeover.
The Facebook page for Cliven Bundy's ranch says he was arrested when he arrived at Portland International Airport. Earlier, the page said he was heading for the refuge.
The tense standoff in Oregon between law enforcement officers and the four refuge occupiers played out on the Internet beginning Wednesday night via a phone line being livestreamed by an acquaintance of occupier David Fry.
Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled 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."
"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 are 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, Nevada, and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho.
Fry said Wednesday the group was surrounded by armored vehicles.
A Nevada legislator, Michele Fiore, called in to try to get the occupiers to calm down. Fiore said she could help them only if they stayed alive.
"I need you guys alive," said the Republican member of the Nevada Assembly who was in Portland earlier in the day to show support for Ammon Bundy.
Fiore told occupiers Wednesday night she was driving to the refuge to try to help negotiate their exit from the refuge. The occupiers prayed with Fiore and others as the situation dragged on for hours Wednesday night.
Fiore left Portland International Airport in a car driven by Mike Arnold, Ammon Bundy's lawyer, reports CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV. She said they were "speeding to Burns," but the FBI said no one would be allowed on refuge grounds until the occupiers surrendered peacefully.
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.
Anderson relayed the news to Fiore.
"We're not surrendering, we're turning ourselves in. It's going against everything we believe in," he said.
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.
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.
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 livestream: "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.
Throughout the streamed conversation, occupiers mentioned the involvement of Reverend Franklin Graham, the Christian evangelist son of Billy Graham, KOIN points out.
In early February, Graham's spokesperson confirmed he spoke by phone with the holdouts at the refuge and federal representatives.
The standoff was occurring on the 40th day of the occupation, launched by Ammon 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 traveling 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.