Militia Member Killed as Authorities Arrest Ammon Bundy and Several Followers

The arrests come three weeks after the militia group seized control of a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon.

Les Zaitz/The Oregonian/Associated Press

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Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed militia group that seized a federal wildlife refuge on January 2, and several others were arrested on Tuesday night after a confrontation with law enforcement during a traffic stop. One militia member—Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a.k.a #TarpMan—was shot and killed, though authorities have not released details about who fired the fatal shot. According to NBC News, Finicum had previously said he’d rather die than be arrested: “I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box. There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them. I’m prepared to defend freedom.” (Finicum was also the author of a novel, Only By Blood and Suffering: Regaining Lost Freedom; several foster children, whom Finicum called his only main source of income, were taken from him and his wife while he occupied the refuge.)

During a highway stop north of the refuge, shots were fired, according to the FBI and Oregon State Police. Finicum was killed, and Ryan Bundy, who was also taken into custody, suffered a minor gunshot wound. In a separate incident in Burns, Oregon State Police arrested a sixth person, Joseph O’Shaunghnessy, an hour and a half after the initial arrests. All face federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers.

The Oregonian also reported that Jon Ritzheimer, another militant leader famous for complaining about a sex toy delivery to the refuge, surrendered to police several hours later.

The arrests comes three weeks after Bundy and the militia group took control of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge after protesting the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond, the father-son rancher duo who face prison time for setting fire to federal land.

Update, January 27, 9:40 a.m. EST: The FBI has ordered for the remaining militia members to leave. 

Jason Patrick, one of the men still occupying the federal building, likened Finicum’s death to the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. “The government can kill who they want for whatever reason they want with impunity,” he told Reuters.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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