KEY timeline EVENTS


Bundys acquitted in 'huge setback for the government'

Leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter were found not guilty yesterday of conspiring to impede federal officials in a shocking loss for the government. "I don't know how this verdict can't serve to embolden people that they can be free to take actions that involve threats of violence and instructions on public lands and escape with impunity," said Bob Dreher, a former acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's environmental division. "It's a little scary."


Finicum gets hero's sendoff at Utah funeral

KANAB, Utah — The sound of shofars, biblical instruments made from antelope's horns, cut the desert air Friday morning, as if calling followers to battle.

The tones honored LaVoy Finicum, the Arizona rancher who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last month to demand that the federal government relinquish its Western lands before being killed by police.

The shofars were played by two men, Brand Thornton and his son Nickaoli, of Cedar City, Utah, who also attended the occupation. In the Bible, the Israelite army blew shofars before the Walls of Jericho fell.

"This man was murdered," said the elder Thornton, wearing a tie and jacket, standing among juniper trees outside the church. "He was executed by nefarious people."

Family and supporters remembered Finicum, 54, on Friday as a God-fearing family man who loved to compete, sing and play tricks.

Shot by police on a forested highway in southeast Oregon last month, Finicum was buried by his family in Cane Beds, Ariz., where he lived.


Video of militant's death fails to quell claims of martyrdom

The man in the video emerges from his truck into knee-deep snow, hands in the air as he approaches police officers who have their guns at the ready. Then he reaches toward his belt. Police shoot, and LaVoy Finicum falls to the ground, his body lying in the snow for 10 minutes as police secure the surrender of the truck's remaining occupants.

The FBI released the aerial footage yesterday to combat claims of martyrdom made by the militants who took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge occupants and their supporters asserted that police shot the 55-year-old Finicum after he had surrendered.

The video's release was an unusual move, and its full effect on public opinion remains to be seen.

But supporters of the Malheur occupation are already circulating the video with their own narrative of what it shows.


FBI arrests 3 more as siege inches toward a close

BURNS, Ore. — The FBI yesterday arrested three more militants involved in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and five others voluntarily left as the nearly monthlong takeover winds toward an end.

Most at the refuge complied with Ammon Bundy's plea from jail to stand down and go home, leaving just a handful remaining.

Police at 3:30 p.m. PST arrested Duane Leo Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, Ore., who had been seen frequently in the past weeks riding his horse, Hellboy, around the refuge compound carrying an American flag; and Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah.

At 7:40 p.m., police arrested Jason Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Ga., a self-described "peace officer" who often wore a navy sport coat and a badge that read "Second Amendment — Right to Bear Arms."

Patrick, who said he arrived in Harney County on Dec. 8, 2015, was believed to be the de facto leader of the remaining militants after Ammon and Ryan Bundy were arrested Tuesday and LaVoy Finicum was killed by police. He referred to himself as "Clooney" when speaking to other militants by walkie-talkie.


Sheriff to remaining militants: 'Move on'

BURNS, Ore. — Harney County's top law enforcement official today urged the remaining militants at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to decamp peacefully as federal, state and local police continued to patrol blockades set up around the refuge headquarters' perimeter, keeping this normally quiet town on pins and needles.

An FBI official warned that disruptions to county residents could continue "for a while longer" as police await the militants' next move.


FBI lays siege to refuge after 1 militant killed, Bundys arrested

BURNS, Ore. — The 25-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge took a violent turn last night when police shot and killed 55-year-old militant LaVoy Finicum and arrested Ammon and Ryan Bundy and six of the group's other leaders.

The FBI and Oregon State Police have surrounded the refuge, setting up roadblocks past which no one will be allowed. Anyone leaving the compound will be stopped and their vehicles searched, authorities said.

A convoy of police vehicles carrying concrete highway barriers and porta-potties drove past a checkpoint this morning on the way to the refuge, suggesting police might be preparing for a long impasse.

The shooting happened in late afternoon on U.S. Highway 395 about 20 miles north of Burns as the Bundy entourage was heading to John Day, Ore., to attend a community meeting.

The highway was closed at its junction with U.S. Highway 20 just east of Burns, where a team of heavily armed police officers stood watch.


Ammon Bundy spurred by father and faith to armed takeover

MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Ore. — "I did exactly what the Lord asked me to do." So said Ammon Bundy in a video posted to YouTube on Jan. 1, a day before he led an armed break-in of this bird refuge that he and more than a dozen militants continue to occupy.

It provides a glimpse into a devout Mormon man who has vowed to roll back the federal government's management of 640 million acres of mostly Western lands, clearing the way for more grazing, logging and mining.

Bundy, 40, came here because he believed "the Lord was not pleased" with the five-year prison sentences handed down to Dwight and Steven Hammond, two area ranchers who were convicted of setting fires on federal rangelands.

He's the third of 14 children of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who, inspired by Mormon scripture, has flouted the Bureau of Land Management's grazing restrictions around his Bunkerville ranch for decades and sparked an armed uprising when BLM tried to confiscate his cattle in April 2014.


Refuge militants fear impending arrest

MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Ore. — Leaders of the dozen or so armed militants occupying refuge headquarters here said last night that they expect federal agents to attempt to arrest them soon, though they refused to say whether they would respond with force.

LaVoy Finicum, 54, one of the leaders of the group, which has called itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, said the FBI has five arrest warrants, including one for him.

Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the orchestrator of the occupation, said the group received the intelligence from a "solid source," though he did not say who.

"The FBI is indeed planning on moving on us," he told reporters gathered here at dusk in a mix of snow and rain.

After three days of occupying the 188,000-acre birding refuge in southeastern Oregon, the anti-government militants looked desperate and dejected.


Bundy son seeks armed recruits to join Ore. occupation

An armed, anti-government group seized control Saturday of an unoccupied federal building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, vowing to free up federal lands for ranchers, miners and loggers and asking others to join them with their guns.

The militant group, which reporters on the scene estimate at a couple dozen strong, includes Ammon and Ryan Bundy, two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose decadeslong defiance of Bureau of Land Management grazing restrictions sparked a near-violent confrontation in April 2014 when the agency tried to impound his cattle.

It's the latest — and most brazen — attempt by activists to challenge the federal government's ownership of roughly 640 million acres, most of it in the West, and to secure local control over the nation's forests, refuges and public lands.

The bearded Ammon Bundy, wearing a plaid blue jacket and cowboy hat, said in a video posted by The Oregonian over the weekend that the 188,000-acre refuge will be "a base place for patriots all over the country" to take up arms against a tyrannical federal government. Occupiers have said they don't plan to hurt anyone but will defend their position with force if challenged by law enforcement.



FBI warned of occupiers' kidnap plot

The FBI warned federal officials and local law enforcement of a potential kidnapping plot during the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter, according to emails obtained by E&E News. An analyst with the bureau noted that one of the standoff’s leaders, Ryan Payne, "reportedly plans to take a 'fed' hostage in exchange for a prisoner currently detained in Seattle."


Finicum family accuses police of cover-up

LaVoy Finicum was "executed in cold blood," and the FBI and Oregon State Police are covering up the truth about his shooting, Finicum's family said in a statement yesterday.

After viewing the FBI's aerial footage of the incident and new eyewitness accounts, the family said it believes police began shooting Finicum before he exited his truck and that the 54-year-old quickly moved through the snow to draw gunfire away from his three passengers, who included an 18-year-old woman.