The remaining four members of a militia group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon surrendered to the FBI today, one day after authorities moved into the property, ending the six-week standoff.
The FBI said in a press release that the alleged occupiers, Sean Larry Anderson, Sandra Lynn Anderson, Jeff Wayne Banta and David Lee Fry, were bought into custody without incident. No one was injured and no shots were fired, the FBI said.
Fry initially refused to walk out, the Associated Press reported. An hours-long phone call between him and authorities streamed live online. He said on the call that he wouldn't leave the land until his "grievances" were addressed.
At times Fry sounded suicidal, stating that he would rather kill himself before being removed from the land. He eventually surrendered.
"I cannot help you if you don't walk out," a female dispatcher said to Fry over the phone. "So, you have to make a choice. What are you gonna do?"
"I don't really care what people think of me," Fry responded.
"You're wrong. We do need you," the woman responded. "But, there's nothing more we can do for you. It breaks my heart."
In a press conference Thursday, Bretzing called the standoff an “emotionally exhausting and physically trying” event for everyone involved.
“Our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today,” he said. Authorities will continue to enforce federal law at the refuge, which will be closed over the next several weeks as the FBI and other agencies conduct investigations related to the armed standoff. After the investigation is over, the FBI will return the control of the refuge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bretzing said.
Following the end of the standoff, Harney County Sheriff David Ward encouraged members of the community to “get off” social media and “talk to each other in person.”
“We can’t continue to tear each other apart, hating each other, because of differences of opinion,” he said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a statement Thursday saying it was "relieved" that the "illegal occupation" was over.
"While we are now able to look forward to a new beginning, there is still much that needs to be done so that the community and the larger public can be welcomed back to their refuge," the organization said in the statement.
FBI agents barricaded the refuge Wednesday after the situation had reached a point where it "became necessary to take action" to ensure the safety of all those involved, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said.
The FBI moved in after one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside "the barricades established by the militia" at the refuge, Bretzing said in a statement.
The four occupiers had previously refused to leave the federal land after Ammon Bundy was arrested Jan. 26 in a traffic stop. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the group's spokesperson, was shot and killed by Oregon state troopers last month.
In a separate case, Bundy's 69-year-old father, Cliven Bundy, was charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, obstruction of the administration of justice and interference with commerce by extortion, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
In 2014, he allegedly led an armed standoff in Nevada in 2014 over grazing rights. If convicted, he could face up to 42 years in prison for all of the charges combined, plus a $250,000 fine per count.
It was unclear why the charges were brought forth now. A lawyer for Cliven Bundy was not immediately available for a request for comment.