The occupation by a militia of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal property in Oregon, has taken a violent turn after one leader was killed, and others were arrested.
The 26-year-old daughter of group spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, confirmed it was her father who was killed when the FBI and state police stopped vehicles 20 miles north of Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 26, The Oregonian reports.
The militia members were on their way to a public meeting.
"My dad was such a good good man, through and through," Arianna Finicum Brown, one of Finicum's 11 children, said. "He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved."
Finicum previously told MSNBC he had “no intention of spending any of [his] days in a concrete box.”
When asked if he would rather be dead than in a cell, he said, “Absolutely.”
A total of five of the militia’s members were arrested during the traffic stop: Nevada’s Ryan Bundy, 43, who suffered a minor gunshot wound; Ammon Bundy, 40, of Idaho; Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Montana; Brian Cavalier, 44, of Nevada; and Shawna J. Cox, 59, of Utah, The Oregonian notes.
Each individual has been charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony.
According to Ammon Bundy, Finicum was cooperating with police when he was shot.
Sources of The Oregonian dispute that claim, saying Finicum and Ryan Bundy did not obey orders to surrender and resisted arrest.
"They're doing all the things that shows that they want to take some kinetic action against us,” Finicum said of the federal authorities in an interview the day before his death, according to The Oregonian.
In separate incidents, militia members Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Arizona, and Pete Santilli, 50, of Ohio, were arrested. They both face conspiracy charges of impeding federal officers.
Jon Ritzheimer, 32, who was a key militant leader, turned himself into police in Arizona on a conspiracy charge.
"The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. "My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution."
The occupiers' demands include the release of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, from federal prison. They were convicted of arson on federal lands in Oregon.
Remaining members of the group have called for help from supporters.
"You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge) immediately," Operation Mutual Defense board member Gary Hunt wrote on the website. "If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false."