The four remaining militants at Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are currently engaged in a direct confrontation with the FBI agents that have surrounded the federal compound since one of the gunmen was killed two weeks ago. They’re broadcasting live, right now.
Militia-sympathetic radio host Gavin Seim is streaming the audio from a phone call placed to him by militia member David Fry, one of the final radicals still present at Malheur. The militiamen appear to be on the line with militia-sympathetic Nevada state assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is currently in Portland and trying to convince the holdouts to stand down and surrender to the FBI.
The audio is hard to understand—almost uninterrupted shouting and screaming—but the gunmen seem convinced that they will die soon, and appear ready to engage in a firefight with the FBI.
We will update this post as the livestream continues. The FBI has provided the following release confirming the situation:
At approximately 4:30 pm (Pacific) on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside the barricades established by the militia at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. FBI Agents attempted to approach the driver, and he returned to the encampment at the refuge at a high rate of speed.
At this time, the FBI has moved to contain the remaining occupiers by placing agents at barricades both immediately ahead of and behind the area where the occupiers are camping. Negotiations between the occupiers and the FBI continue. No shots have been fired.
“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. However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.
Update, 9:47 PM: Assemblywoman Fiore continues to try to dial down tensions:
Update, 9:54 PM: The Facebook page associated with the Bundy family has listed phone numbers for a variety of Oregon law enforcement agencies and is encouraging people to call to let authorities know that the remaining occupiers want to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
Per NBC, those occupiers are David Fry, Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson and Sandy Anderson. Some 33,000 people are listening to the livestream. The occupiers are praying.
Update, 9:58 PM: Militia gunman Sandy Anderson just said “We’re not leaving without our weapons” as the FBI blares over megaphones in the background.
Update, 10:02 PM: Craig LaFollette, the mayor of Burns, Oregon, is now on the line and says a negotiator is en route.
Update, 10:10 PM: OPB has confirmed with Michele Fiore, still at the Portland airport, that the stream is authentic. Occupier Sandy Anderson is insisting that she will not go to prison. Apparently, a helicopter is circling the compound.
Update, 10:25 PM: Reportedly, the FBI told the evangelist Franklin Graham that he would be allowed to walk the militants out in the morning. There’s been no external confirmation of that claim. According to the Bundy Ranch Facebook page, Cliven Bundy, who was already planning on traveling to Oregon to support his son, is on his way to the refuge. “My weapon is in reach,” one militant says. “If they fire first, I’m going to take someone with me.”
Update, 10:55 PM: OPB’s Ryan Haas reports that Ammon Bundy’s lawyer is telling the militants that the FBI won’t move on their occupation if the live stream drops. One of the occupiers is citing the movie Braveheart as inspiration.
Update, 11:11 PM: The occupiers want to fire up a heater. The temperature in Burns has dipped below freezing.
Update, 11:40 PM: Fiore is very deliberately and explicitly telling the occupiers that the FBI has told her that they will not make a move tonight, and that she and Graham will be allowed to enter the refuge tomorrow morning.
Update, 12:35 PM: Things seem to have settled down. Fiore reiterates that the FBI is standing down for the night.