Lavoy Finicum was shot dead during the standoff in Burns, Oregon. Ammon Bundy, who was also among the leadership of the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom group that was occupying the wildlife refuge, was arrested. The shooting and the arrest occurred late last night when Finicum, Bundy, and several other members of the “militia” were pulled over on Highway 395.
Ammon Bundy and Lavoy Finicum were on their way to the town of John Day to speak at a community meeting set up by area residents, according to the Oregonian. When the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom members were pulled over by the police, all of the men, except Finicum and Ryan Bundy, Ammon’s brother, adhered to the surrender order. A total of eight men were arrested along the Burns-area highway.
It remains unclear who drew their weapons and opened fire first, the Oregon police or the Malheur Wildlife Center occupiers. According to a CNN report, Ryan Bundy was injured in the shootout, and Lavoy Finicum was mortally wounded. The FBI and the Oregon State Police have only confirmed that a gun battle did occur. Since the onset of the Burns standoff, many onlookers have voiced concerns about the situation turning into another Waco or Ruby Ridge.
On Lavoy’s Twitter profile, he described himself this way.
“Rancher, Loves Freedom and willing to fight and die defending it.”
Finicum’s final tweet was shared just a few hours before his death.
The group, dubbed by the media as the “Oregon Militia,” took control of the Malheur Wildlife Center 26 days ago. Since the primary leaders of the group have now been killed, injured, or arrested, it is not yet known if the remaining members will dig in deeper at the refuge or vacate the federal land.
Cliven Bundy, the father of both Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy, issued a statement today claiming that Finicum was not killed in a shootout but killed in cold blood by the police. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Bundy was embroiled in a heated and ongoing battle with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over grazing rights on federal land. The BLM maintains and controls all federally-owned lands in the United States. The federal government owns about 40 percent of all the land in the western states.
Below is the “Remember Us” video posted to Lavoy Finicum’s YouTube channel early Wednesday morning with the hashtag #LibertyofDeath.
The massive amount of land owned by the government and an increasing onslaught of usage regulations anger many ranchers, miners, and citizens who are unable to continue using the land to benefit the raising of beef that feeds the nation and garners local tax revenue through business usage.
During an interview with CNN earlier this month, Finicum, a father of 11, said he had no desire to die but added that he had no intention of ever being arrested and placed in a cage.
“I’m just not going to prison. Look at the stars. There’s no way I’m going to sit in a concrete cell where I can’t see the stars and roll out my bedroll on the ground. That’s just not going to happen,” Lavoy Finicum said during the early January interview. “I want to be able to get up in the morning and throw my saddle on my horse and go check on my cows. It’s OK. I’ve lived a good life. God’s been gracious to me.”
Those arrested at the initial traffic stop where Lavoy Finicum was killed and Ryan Bundy was injured include Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox, and Ryan Payne. Three people arrested in a different location include Peter Santilli, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, and Jon Ritzheimer – who turned himself over to police in Peoria, Arizona. All of the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom members were charged with a felony count of “conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States from discharging their duties through force, intimidation, or threats,” Fox News reports.