The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning.
The developments came as Cliven Bundy, the father of the jailed leader of the Oregon occupation and who also the leader of a standoff with federal officials in Nevada in 2014, was arrested in Portland.
The tense standoff between law enforcement officers and the four occupiers was being livestreamed on the Internet by an acquaintance of one of the holdouts, David Fry.
On Wedneday night, Fry, 27, continually yelled 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 said the group was surrounded by armored vehicles.
Fry and the three others are the last remnants of an armed 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.
Cliven Bundy flew into Portland International Airport Wednesday night and was arrested by authorities. He was booked into the lockup just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to Multnomah County Jail records.
The 74-year-old Nevadan was at the center of a standoff in Nevada with federal officials over use of public lands. The Oregonian reports he now faces a conspiracy charge of interfering with a federal officer related to the standoff at his ranch in 2014.
The FBI confirmed Cliven Bundy's arrest but declined to provide a reason or other details, saying further information would be released by the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas, which did not respond to a phone call early Thursday.
Ammon Bundy, his son, had been demanding that the Oregon refuge be handed over to locals when the occupation began.
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, the jailed leader of the occupation. 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. The refuge is south of Burns, Ore.
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 that the situation had reached a point where it “became necessary to take action” to ensure the safety of all involved.
“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,” the statement said.
A neighbor who lives near the refuge told The Washington Post that residents were told to stay in their homes until the police give clearance.
The FBI said its agents moved to contain the remaining four holdouts Wednesday evening after one of the occupiers drove an all-terrain vehicle outside the barricades previously set up by the self-styled militia members at the refuge.
FBI agents attempted to approach the driver, and he sped away back to the compound, after which federal agents “moved to contain the remaining occupiers by placing agents at barricades both immediately ahead of and behind” their encampment, the FBI said.
The four remained at the refuge despite the arrests of group leader Bundy and others Jan. 26 on a remote road where a spokesman for the group, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was shot dead. A 12th member of the group turned himself in to police in Arizona.
Another occupier, Sandy Anderson, said Wednesday 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.”
She reported seeing FBI snipers posted on a nearby hillside with high-beam vehicle lights trained on the compound.
“If they tear gas us, it's the same as firing on us,” she said, adding, “Don't come in. Don't do it.”
Her husband and fellow occupier, 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. Help us.”
The fate of Ammon Bundy and other members of the group who remain in custody has been clouded by the four holdouts. A judge has cited the continuing standoff as a major obstacle to the release of at least some of those who remain jailed on federal charges.