ISSN 2330-717X

Oregon: FBI Initiates Containment Of Wildlife Refuge, 8 Arrested

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The FBI and Oregon State Police said Wednesday they have initiated a containment of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to better ensure the safety of community members and law enforcement.

The containment procedure involves a series of checkpoints established along key routes into and out of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The FBI said that signs will be posted, and that anyone who moves beyond those signs will be stopped, identified and asked to leave. Non-compliant people will be subject to arrest, the FBI said, adding that anyone coming out of the refuge will have his or her identification confirmed and any associated vehicles searched.

The FBI said that the only people allowed to pass into the checkpoints will be Harney County ranchers who own property in those specific areas. They will be required to show photo ID as they go in and out.

Speaking Wednesday, Greg Bretzing, FBI Special Agent in Charge said that, “the armed occupiers were given ample opportunities to leave peacefully. They were given the opportunity to negotiate. As outsiders to Oregon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homes and have their grievances heard through legal and appropriate means. They chose, instead, to threaten the very America they profess to love with violence, intimidation and criminal acts.”

Bretzing confirmed that eight people were arrested, “and one man died yesterday as we attempted to take him into custody.”

Bretzing said that because there is an on-going investigation by the Deschutes County Major Crimes Team on behalf of OSP related to this piece of the investigation, he will not be able to comment on the specifics.

“I would, however, ask for your patience as the shooting investigation works its way through that outside process. At the appropriate time, the Medical Examiner’s office will release the decedent’s identity, and OSP will address the details of the event,” Bretzing said, although he stressed, “It is fully and unequivocally the behavior and the choices made by the armed occupiers that have led us to where we are today. And, as the FBI and our partners have demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.”

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (Democrat) said that he was pleased that, “the FBI has listened to the concerns of the local community and responded to the illegal activity occurring in Harney County by outside extremists. The leaders of this group are now in custody and I hope that the remaining individuals occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will peacefully surrender so this community can begin to heal the deep wounds that this illegal activity has created over the last month.”

“The locally elected leaders and state, local, and federal law enforcement are to be commended for their close coordination in working to address this crisis,” Merkley said.

As reported, on Tuesday evening the FBI and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During that arrest, there were shots fired.

According to the FBI, one person, who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest was killed and another person suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was arrested and is currently in custody.

Late Tuesday, the FBI Phoenix Division made a probable cause arrest of Jon Eric Ritzheimer, age 32, on a federal charge related to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Ritzheimer turned himself into the Peoria, Arizona, police department. The arrest was without incident.

Ritzheimer faces one federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

The FBI made the Arizona arrest in conjunction with a series of other arrests made by FBI and Oregon State Police in Harney County, Oregon, earlier in the evening on Tuesday. The following individuals also face the same charge:

  • Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
  • Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
  • Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
  • Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah
  • Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana
  • Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, age 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona
  • Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio

All of the named defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

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