The leader of the month-long occupation of a Oregon wildlife refuge has urged remaining occupiers to go home, after he and several other leaders of the occupation were arrested Tuesday.
Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had a well-publicized standoff with the government over grazing rights in 2014, was arrested along with his brother, Ryan Bundy. Six other were arrested Tuesday night.
In his first public statement, delivered by his lawyer, Mr. Bundy urged remaining occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to leave peacefully and urged authorities to let them leave without arrest:
"Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is now in the courts."
As of late Wednesday night, eight protestors had left the refuge and three were arrested.
The FBI and Oregon State Police revealed in a statement that three of the protestors who left the refuge Wednesday night had been arrested, including Duana Leo Ehmer, Dylan Wade Anderson, and Jason S. Patrick. The three turned themselves in to federal agents and face felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers.
Details surrounding the death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who died during the confrontation that led to the arrest of Mr. Bundy and seven others, still remain spotty.
Bundy followers gave several conflicting accounts – one said Mr. Finicum charged federal agents, who then killed him, while a Bundy family member said Finicum did nothing to provoke the shooting.
An Oregon man who claims to have witnessed the shootout gave KOIN-TV a different account. Raymond Doherty told the local station he was about 100 feet back and could not make out who was shooting, but saw both sides shooting at each other.
Federal authorities have so far been silent about the death, refusing to release any details or verify that Finicum was the militant killed.
It is unclear how many people remain inside the refuge, with some estimates placing the remaining group at 5 or 6.
People could leave the refuge area through checkpoints, “where they will be identified,” FBI agent Greg Bretzing told The Associated Press. Officials confirmed that beyond the three men who were arrested while leaving, five others exited through checkpoints and were released without arrest.
Jason Patrick, one of the three occupiers who was arrested Wednesday, told Reuters that some members of the group were leaving, but that did not mean it was “surrender.”
"I don’t know what surrendering looks like," he told the wires service by telephone. "They’re walking through the checkpoint and going home. That's what I've heard unless I'm being lied to."
This report includes material from The Associated Press and Reuters.