Lone occupier remains at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff

A live stream of a telephone call indicates three of the four remaining occupiers of an Oregon wildlife refuge have surrendered, but one is refusing to budge.
The surrender is playing out over a phone call on an open line streamed live on the Internet by an acquaintance of occupier David Fry, who delayed leaving Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after he said the other three walked out.
They are the last remnants of armed group that seized the refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land use policies.
The FBI hasn't confirmed that the three surrendered, and the area was too far away for reporters at the scene to see.
Fry is on the call with his acquaintance and a Nevada legislator who drove to the site to aid in the surrender. Fry said Jeff Banta of Nevada and married couple Sean and Sandy Anderson of Idaho have left.
Fry says he "declares war against the federal government." The holdouts have been indicted with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers and have previously said they wanted assurances they won't face arrest.
Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, 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, adding that armored vehicles surrounded their camp.
The three others who reportedly turned themselves in this morning are Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada; and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho.
Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said the situation had reached a point where it "became necessary to take action" to ensure the safety of all involved.
One of the occupiers rode an ATV outside "the barricades established by the militia" at the refuge, Bretzing said in a statement. When FBI agents tried to approach the driver, Fry said he returned to the camp at a "high rate of speed."
The FBI placed agents at barricades around the occupiers' camp, Bretzing said.
"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," he said.
The development came as Cliven Bundy — who is the father of Ammon Bundy and led a Nevada standoff with federal authorities in 2014 — was arrested in Portland after encouraging supporters to flock to Oregon to support the occupiers. The FBI confirmed he was taken into custody but declined to provide a reason or other details.
Federal authorities likely decided to move in over concerns about dealing with a larger group, an expert said.
"The FBI looks at the concept of group dynamics, and they don't have the upper hand with a big and ungainly crowd," said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino. "When you've got many armed people taking positions, it's not going to end well."
For weeks, authorities had allowed the occupiers to come and go freely from the remote refuge, leading to criticism from local officials and residents that law enforcement wasn't doing enough to end the standoff.
The four had refused to leave even after Ammon Bundy and others were arrested on a road outside the refuge on Jan. 26. The traffic stop also led police to shoot and kill Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who the FBI says was reaching for a gun.
Most of the occupiers fled the refuge after that. Authorities then surrounded the property and later got the holdouts added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.
The four previously said they would not leave without assurances they would not be arrested.
— Associated Press

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