A federal judge in Oregon yesterday revealed the name of the 26th person to be charged in the 40-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, though he is not yet in custody and his Montana family is reportedly weighing the possibility of resisting his arrest.
Jake Ryan is accused of three felony counts of impeding federal land management officials from their duties, carrying a weapon into a federal facility and excavating lands that are sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
Ryan, who is said to be 25 years old, was the lone name to be redacted from the March 8 indictment of the 26 defendants.
Federal prosecutors told the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon yesterday that Ryan’s family in Montana is aware of the indictment and has hired an attorney.
Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel yesterday issued a press release confirming that there is an arrest warrant out for Ryan and that he has been in contact with the FBI and Ryan’s family to negotiate a "peaceful resolution."
He said there’s no evidence that Ryan is in the county and that "outside citizen involvement" will not be needed.
"From the start of this, it has been my intention to make sure that Jake Ryan’s safety and rights are provided for, and I will continue to do just that," Rummel said.
Sympathizers of the Malheur occupation are pressuring Rummel to protect Ryan from being arrested by the FBI.
Gavin Seim, the self-described "liberty activist" who acted as intermediary between the FBI and the final four Malheur occupants, said in a Facebook post last night that Ryan is innocent and urged Rummel to take a "stand."
"A sheriff demanding those he is paid to protect turn himself in to terrorists is not acceptable," Seim wrote. "Ask the sheriff to honor his oath and tell him liberty will stand with him."
According to Seim, the Ryan family last night said Rummel wants Jake to turn himself in.
"We ask at this time that you stand by as far as a physical presence, but continue to be the moral support that we need at this time," the family said, according to Seim.
Rummel said that as of yesterday afternoon, he had received more than 400 emails and 100 phone messages. He urged people to stop contacting him.
Ryan’s mother, Roxsanna, said last night that the family hoped to get a feel for the support of the people in Plains, a town in the sparsely populated, heavily forested northwest Montana county, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Roxsanna said she wants the support of Rummel, the paper said.
Sanders County, incidentally, was the birthplace in 1994 of the Militia of Montana, a paramilitary group that arose following the federal government’s deadly siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
John Trochmann, the militia’s founder, now runs an outfit called the Sanders Natural Resource Council that opposes federal environmental restrictions on the Kootenai National Forest. Trochman has encouraged sheriffs to arrest federal officials who unjustly close access to federal lands and to mobilize a "posse" to defend the sheriff from prosecution.
Ryan was one of the final occupants to leave the refuge headquarters, according to the March 8 grand jury indictment.
As remaining occupants fled following the Jan. 26 arrests of leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy and the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum, Ryan stuck around and allegedly joined Sean Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, the next day in excavating lands sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe, causing more than $1,000 in damage, the indictment says.
An FBI evidence team later discovered two large trenches and an improvised road on or adjacent to grounds with sensitive artifacts, and at least one of the trenches contained "a significant amount" of human feces, prosecutors said. It is unclear whether Ryan is accused of digging the latrine.
If convicted on all three counts, Ryan could face more than 20 years behind bars.