It’s unclear whether the occupation of a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon will continue after one militant was shot dead and eight others were arrested on Tuesday.
The FBI confronted members of an armed group of occupiers near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, leading to the exchange of gunshots.
Militant leader Ammon Bundy was taken into custody while Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers, was killed.
According to The Oregonian, Bundy and several fellow occupiers were travelling to the city of John Day, where they were set to participate in a community meeting set up by local residents upset by their presence.
After the FBI confronted the group everyone obeyed orders to surrender except two people: Finicum and Bundy’s brother, Ryan Bundy, who suffered a minor gunshot wound.
Bundy and four other senior members were taken into custody around 4:25 p.m. local time, the FBI said. A sixth person was arrested by Oregon State Police in Burns, Oregon, about 90 minutes later. The FBI said a seventh person was later arrested, 50-year-old Peter Santilli, a journalist who live streamed events at the refuge.
The FBI said they also arrested an eighth person in Peoria, Arizona, in relation to the occupation.
All of those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties, the FBI said.
With Ammon Bundy in custody and Finicum dead, it’s unclear whether those who remain at the wildlife reserve will remain, or surrender.
One of the remaining militants, Jason Patrick, told Reuters by phone they would stay until the “redress of grievances.”
“I’ve heard ‘peaceful resolution’ for weeks now and now there’s a cowboy who is my friend who is dead — so prepare for the peaceful resolution,” Patrick said.
The siege began January 2nd, the result of a decades-old conflict over the U.S. government’s control of millions of acres of territory in the west. The militants say they are defending the Constitution.