Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BREAKING: Shots Fired Near Malheur County Refuge

One dead, one wounded in "traffic stop" confrontation with FBI and State Police.

I've not reported on the "standoff" at the Malheur County Wildlife Refuge, mostly because there's so much disinformation flying about that it's difficult to tell what's what. For the record, I'm not 100% convinced that the Hammonds are innocent victims of federal overreach (they are victims of overreach, but not totally innocent), nor am I convinced the "militia" — including Ammon and Ryan Bundy — "occupying" a federal facility are completely on the up-and-up. I'm also not convinced the federal agents are acting in good faith to prevent another Ruby Ridge or Waco.

In short, I believe this story is far more complex that anyone realizes, and nobody has all the facts.

So when I report that shots were fired, with one "militia" member killed and one other wounded — and several more arrested — during a "traffic stop" conducted by FBI agents, I urge everyone involved or following along, in the strongest possible terms, not to jump to conclusions until we have actual, verifiable facts. At this point it's not at all clear who fired first — or if the "militia" members even fired at all.

That information will be crucial in the days to come.

Here's what's being reported so far:

Via KATU News: Several of the "militia" leaders — including Ammon Bundy, LaVoy Finicum, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne — were reportedly on their way to a community meeting in John Day (70 miles north of Burns) when they were pulled over on Highway 395 by FBI agents and Oregon State Troopers, shortly before 4:30 pm. During the stop, shots were fired (more on this in a moment), killing LaVoy Finicum. Ryan Bundy was wounded. The men were then placed under arrest (in Ryan Bundy's case, after hospital treatment).

Reports vary on the circumstances precipitating the "shoot-out", and run the gamut from militia members complying with all orders but being shot at anyway to militia members not complying and threatening agents who then took appropriate action.

Via OregonLive:
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy told his wife that Finicum had been cooperating with police and had his hands up. Then, Fiore said, Bundy said he watched police shoot Finicum three times.

But sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest. Authorities have not detailed what happened.
Again, I can't stress enough that we don't have enough facts to draw conclusions.

In the meantime, let's offer our thoughts and prayers to LaVoy Finicum's friends and family (and he had a very large family). He will, I'm sure, be missed.

For the rest of us, I have the sinking feeling this is just the beginning. Stay aware, stay informed, and above all, stay safe.

Correction: Original post reported the confrontation occurring shortly after 8 pm. That was incorrect, reflecting the time the linked OregonLive article updated. The confrontation actually occurred shortly before 4:30 pm. This post has been updated.

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