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Bundy brothers among 8 arrested, 1 dead near Malheur refuge

BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) – One person died and 8 were arrested – including militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy – after the FBI and the Oregon State Police intercepted the group along Highway 395.

The militants were heading to a community meeting in John Day when they were confronted by authorities.

Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State Police and other authorities made the stop. It is unclear who opened fire first.

In a statement, the FBI said one person who was “a subject of a federal probable cause arrest” was killed. That person killed was later identified as Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, the de facto spokesman for the militia, CNN confirmed.

Ryan Bundy was also shot and injured, sources confirm. He is expected to survive.

The FBI and OSP made the following arrests: Ammon Bundy, 40, from Emmett, Idaho;Ryan Bundy, 43, from Bunkerville, Nevada; Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada;Shawna Cox, 59, Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana.

A sixth person, 45-year-old Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy of Cottonwood, Arizona, was arrested by OSP in a separate incident in Burns, officials said.

Each person arrested faces a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede U.S. officers from “discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.”

Later in the evening, right-wing online talk show host Pete Santilli, who has been embedded with the militia since the occupation began, was also arrested on the same charges. Santilli, 50, lives in Cincinnati.

Additional people were detained during the confrontation on Highway 395. They have since been released, according to the FBI.

Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, turned himself over to FBI agents in Phoenix, Arizona. He was arrested without incident on a federal charge related to the refuge occupation.

Law enforcement will hold a press conference at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

An Air Link helicopter was dispatched to the scene late Tuesday afternoon, KOIN-TV confirmed. It is unclear who was transported to the hospital via helicopter. Highway 395 at the intersection of US-20 north of Burns  – not far from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – was closed in both directions. The closure spanned more than 50 miles.

Harney District Hospital was placed on lockdown as news of the situation came in.

Ammon Bundy, who was expected at the community meeting in John Day, never showed up, KOIN-TV confirmed. The meeting went on as planned from 6 – 8 p.m. at the John Day Senior Center. According to Mount Vernon resident Mike Douglas, the packed room became “tense” when news of the arrests and shooting came in.

Harney County Judge Steve Gratsy released a statement Tuesday night calling for those “who remain at the Refuge [to] stand down peacefully.”

It is unclear how many people are still at the compound and when they plan to leave.

In a statement, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said her “highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities,” as the federal investigation continues. She asked “for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution.”

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement Tuesday night:

I am 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.

Ammon Bundy and his armed group overtook the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2, following a protest through the streets of Burns to support ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond. They were convicted of setting fires on federal land and were sentenced to 5 years in prison. The trial judge sentenced them to less than the federally-required minimum sentence, and they were ordered to return to prison.

While advocating for the Hammonds’ release, the militia claimed the federal government has no jurisdiction over the Malheur refuge.

Since then, Burns residents have urged the militia to leave at a series of community meetings. Bundy and the other occupiers have repeatedly refused to do so.

More militiamen from around the country drove in truck by truck to join the cause on January 20. The heavily armed militants believe their cause is not only just, but an act of divine intervention.

Governor Brown recently spoke out against the occupation, urging the militants to leave as quickly as possible. In a one-on-one interview with KOIN-TV on Monday, Brown said the situation was “intolerable”.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for this to continue,” Governor Brown said. “The very fabric of the Burns community is being ripped apart by this occupation.”

The Burns Paiute Tribe also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent the armed group from moving freely on and off the national wildlife refuge.