Updated January 27 at 2:33 p.m.
For three weeks, a ragtag militia led by Ammon Bundy has illegally occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. And for three weeks, residents and federal officials have worried about the potential for violence to break out, and wondered how the stalemate might be resolved. Suddenly, there’s intense movement to end the occupation.
On Tuesday, eight people were arrested in connection with the occupation, including Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan. One man, the militia spokesman LaVoy Finicum, was killed in a shootout with police. Officials have now tightened roadblocks around the refuge and during a press conference Wednesday signaled their intention to bring the occupation to an end as quickly as possible.
“I would say the armed occupiers have been given ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully,” said Greg Bretzing, the FBI agent in charge of Oregon. “They have been given opportunities to negotiate. As outsiders to Oregon, they have been given the opportunity to return to their families and work through the normal legal process to air grievances. They have chosen to threaten and intimidate the America they profess to love.”
The arrests and death happened Tuesday afternoon, when Oregon State Police and the FBI officers intercepted several militia members, including Finicum and the Bundys, on Highway 395 around 4:25 p.m. The group were on their way from the refuge to the town of John Day, about 100 miles away, for a meeting. Law-enforcement officials have not provided details on what happened next, but The Oregonian reports that the group resisted arrest, and shots were fired. It’s not clear who shot first.