Sheriff: Militia not considering community’s wishes

Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are monitoring the occupation

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, left, speaks as Judge Steven Grasty looks on during a news conference Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Burns, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Harney County Sheriff David Ward, left, speaks as Judge Steven Grasty looks on during a news conference Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Burns, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said at a community meeting Monday that ever since a militia took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge there has been an uptick in reports of vandalism, harassment and intimidation within the community.

Sheriff Ward said those involved in the takeover have no consideration for the wishes or needs of the people of Harney County.

If they did, he said, they would work to bring the situation to a peaceful close.

Instead, Ward says members of the armed group have been harassing law enforcement officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees as they go about their business in the community.

Mark Heckert of Puyallup said he studied at Oregon State and frequented the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wants the militia out, Jan. 11, 2016 (KOIN)
Mark Heckert of Puyallup said he studied at Oregon State and frequented the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wants the militia out, Jan. 11, 2016 (KOIN)

Ward said law enforcement “will not be intimidated from doing their jobs.” Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are monitoring the occupation but have not taken action.

On Monday, KOIN 6 News learned a data breach by the militia led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ask some if its employees to relocate from their homes until the situation is resolved.

“There is not a stated threat,” one source said. “This is out of an abundance of caution.”

The militia reportedly accessed the personal information — including home addresses — of employees.

Local schools reopened Monday after being closed last week due to the wildlife refuge takeover.

While community members say they’re ready for things to go back to normal, many agree that the event has caused a rift between people.

Ammon Bundy reiterated that message when he said “a war among the people” is possible.

“We know if we continue to go down the road we have been continuing to go down, we will ultimately create a war among the people,” Bundy said Monday at a media briefing. “This is an effort right now, a peaceful effort to make sure that war never comes, to make sure that there is not a war between government and the people.”

KOIN 6 News will have the latest from Burns, Oregon on Tuesday

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The Associated Press contributed to this report