BURNS, Ore. – Authorities say shots were fired Tuesday during the arrest of members of an armed group that has occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than three weeks.
In a statement, the FBI said one individual “who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased.” No other information about the deceased was immediately released. The FBI said authorities arrested Ammon Bundy, 40, his brother Ryan Bundy, 43, Brian Cavalier, 44, Shawna Cox, 59, and Ryan Payne, 32, during a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 395 Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said another person, Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, was arrested in Burns.
Bundy’s group, which has included people from as far away as Arizona and Michigan, seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 as part of a long-running dispute over public lands in the West. Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
The FBI said the people arrested Tuesday face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats. Federal law enforcement officers converged on the wildlife refuge after the arrests and were expected to remain at the site throughout the night. It was unclear how many members of the armed group, if any, were at the refuge when the law enforcement officers arrived.
Bundy’s group, calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to decry what it calls onerous federal land restrictions and to object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.
Specifically, the group wanted federal lands turned over to local authorities. Local and state authorities had criticized the FBI recently for not taking action against Bundy’s group. Local authorities and residents had urged Bundy’s group to leave peacefully. Many locals feared the group would bring problems to the area.