BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — One person is dead and 6 people arrested — including militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy — after the FBI and the Oregon State Police intercepted the group along a highway.
Federal authorities arrested Ammon Bundy and up to 8 of his followers in a traffic stop away from the federal refuge where they have been holed up, a law enforcement official said, CNN reports.
Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State Police and other authorities made the stop. It’s not clear who fired first, CBS News confirmed.
An Air Link helicopter was dispatched to Burns late Tuesday afternoon amid unconfirmed reports of gunshots fired in connection with the nearly 4-week-old Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, KOIN 6 News confirmed.
Highway 395 at the intersection of US 20 north of Burns — not far from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — is closed in both directions.It is more than a 50-mile stretch of highway that is shut down.
Harney District Hospital is on lockdown, OPB reported.
Ammon Bundy was expected at a meeting in John Day on Tuesday, but never showed up, KOIN 6 News confirmed.
Bundy and a group of militia overtook the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2, following a protest through the streets of Burns to support ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond. They were convicted of setting fires on federal land and were sentenced to 5 years in prison. The trial judge sentenced them to less than the federally-required minimum sentence, and they were ordered to return to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.
The militia claimed the federal government has no jurisdiction over the wildlife refuge.
Since that time a series of community meetings have urged the militia to go. But Bundy and the other occupiers have refused to leave.
More militiamen from around the country drove in truck by truck to join the cause on January 20. The heavily armed militants believe their cause is not only just, but an act of divine intervention.
“God wants us here, there’s a sense that’s beckoning and it comes from heaven,”militiaman Kelly Gneiting told KOIN 6 News on January 20.. “We’re doing what’s right, we’re doing what the founding fathers would do because we’re inspired by God, also.”
Gov. Kate Brown stepped up her public comments urging an end to the occupation as quickly as possible. In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News on Monday, Brown said it was “intolerable” for the militia to be allowed to remain.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for this to continue,” the governor told KOIN 6 News Monday. “The very fabric of the Burns community is being ripped apart by this occupation.”
The Burns Paiute Tribe also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent the armed group from moving freely on and off a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.
The small group angry about federal land use policy took over the buildings at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge more than three weeks ago.
KOIN 6 News will have more information as soon as possible.