Last of armed occupiers at Oregon wildlife refuge say they will turn themselves in Thursday morning

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The occupied wildlife refuge in Oregon. (Photo: Getty Images)

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The last four armed occupiers at an Oregon wildlife refuge say they will turn themselves in to the FBI Thursday morning, putting an end to a 40-day takeover of the federal facility.

The decision came after FBI agents had surrounded the last four occupiers at the refuge Wednesday night.

Refuge occupier Sean Anderson says he spoke with the FBI and that he and three other holdouts will turn themselves in at a nearby FBI checkpoint at 8 a.m. Thursday.

 Anderson relayed the news to Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore over a phone line streaming on the Internet as she was driving to the refuge.

Anderson said they plan to leave their weapons in their vehicles and walk one-by-one to the checkpoint while carrying an American flag.

He says he expects Fiore to meet them at the checkpoint Thursday morning.

In a statement Wednesday evening, the FBI said they placed agents at barricades both immediately ahead of and behind the area where the occupiers were camping. An acquaintance of occupier David Fry was livestreaming on YouTube what he said was an open phone line from the standoff. The occupiers said they were surrounded by armored vehicles. They can be heard arguing with someone they said was a negotiator.

The four holdouts were the last remnants of an armed group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land-use policies.

Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement the situation had reached a point where it “became necessary to take action” to ensure the safety of all involved.

Here is the full FBI statement:

At approximately 4:30 p.m. (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.

Wednesday marks day 40 of the occupation of the refuge.

The four remained despite the arrests of group leader Ammon Bundy and others Jan. 26 on a remote road outside the refuge.

 

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