BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, the de facto spokesman for the militia at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was killed after a confrontation with FBI and Oregon State Police on Tuesday, sources confirm to CNN.
The standoff reached a boiling point Tuesday afternoon when 7 people were arrested — including militia leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy — while on Highway 395. The group was en route to John Day where a meeting about the refuge occupation was being held.
Members of a SWAT team on Highway 395 reportedly opened fire after a high-speed getaway attempt and a reach for the waistband, CNN reported.
LaVoy Finicum was killed in the confrontation. Ryan Bundy was also shot, but was treated and released from the hospital.
The LaVoy Finicum timeline
Finicum began being the face for the militia almost immediately after their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began January 2. In one of their first media briefings, Finicum — who said he’s “not militia, don’t intend to be militia, I’m just a rancher” from Arizona — said they have a 2-point plan:
They will look at land transaction records and once they find a particular land transaction they will begin restoring land to the owners.
But he did not address what their plan is, and Finicum only laid it out in vague terms.
“That is the broad plan,” Finicum said. “We are working on specifics.”
That same day, he said he believed federal officials have issued warrants for the arrest of 5 group members.
Finicum, holding a rifle and a backpack, stayed at the entrance to the refuge overnight so authorities could find him.
He brought his daughters and grandchildren to the militia headquarters and posed for pictures with his kids. He told the authorities to allow them “safe passage” into the refuge. It is unclear how long they stayed.
During another media briefing on January 15, Finicum said the militia was eager to meet with the community. “We have a PowerPoint presentation we want to show them,” he said.
He also called on the FBI to leave the area, saying they’re the ones who are carrying guns and “stirring up fear.”
Days later, he announced the occupiers would have a “signing ceremony” with 2 ranchers from other states that would rescind their land-use rights to the federal government.
But when that day came, only one rancher showed up — and he announced he would put his grazing rights fees in escrow in case he needed to pay them.
Finicum lived in Arizona, and in one press briefing took a broad swipe at Sen. John McCain.
The fight the militia had, he said, is about federalism, that the county is the government closest to the people.
“You think I can get John McCain on the phone? What has John McCain done for freedom? Nothing!” he said.
McCain was a Vietnamese prisoner of war for more than 5 years and overcame debilitating injuries he suffered when his plane crashed. He’s been a US representative, is currently Arizona’s senior senator and was the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.