Bundy brothers, refuge occupiers appear in court

Militia took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, 2016

Ammon Bundy in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (Abigail Marble/Sketch Artist)
Ammon Bundy in a courtroom sketch from his federal court appearance Wednesday, January 27, 2016. (Abigail Marble/Sketch Artist)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ammon Bundy, along with 7 other arrested militants, appeared in federal court on Wednesday.

The FBI arrested Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli and Jon Ritzheimer on probable cause, according to a bureau spokesperson.

Each has been charged with one felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

The United States Attorney’s Office could file additional charges at a later time, criminal defense attorney Kevin Sali said.

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All courtroom sketches by Abigail Marble/Sketch Artist

The 7 suspects arrested in Oregon appeared before Honorable Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

The judge ordered all 7 suspects to remain in jail until at least Friday. She said they are a danger to the community and, with no ties to Oregon, flight risks.

Beckerman set a detention hearing for Friday, giving the defendants a chance to argue for their release pending trial.

(L-R) Brian Cavalier, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, January 2016. They and 5 others were arrested by the FBI on Jan. 26, 2016 (KOIN)
(L-R) Brian Cavalier, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, January 2016. They and 5 others were arrested by the FBI on Jan. 26, 2016 (KOIN)

Public defender Lisa Hay pressed for the immediate release of her client, Ryan Payne. Hay says Payne has no criminal record, and prosecutors have not alleged he did anything violent.

She called Payne’s involvement “political speech” and said his “mere presence” at the refuge occupation “is not a crime.”

Prosecutor Geoff Barrow said the risk is that he returns to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “bunker with his co-conspirators.”

The defendants said little Wednesday. The most expressive was Ryan Bundy, who looked at the press and asked “How are you guys?” when he entered the courtroom.

Complete coverage of the militia standoff

Mike Arnold, one of the defense attorneys for Ammon Bundy spoke to the media after the hearing, relaying a message his client had for those still at the refuge.

“Please stand down, please stand down,” Arnold said. “Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now, in the courts.”

A federal complaint against all 8 suspects tied to the refuge occupation was unsealed in federal court on Wednesday. The complaint lists reasons for Tuesday night’s arrests, and says the armed group had explosives and night-vision goggles. It says they were prepared to fight.

The document says a source told authorities about the equipment on January 2, when the group took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It’s not clear if officials found explosives or if that’s the reason they moved to make the arrests.

Ritzheimer was arrested in Arizona. He made a brief appearance in federal court on Wednesday. Ritzheimer said “yes, sir” in response to basic questions from the judge in Phoenix. The 32-year-old, wearing a flannel shirt and hiking boots, will stay in jail until a detention hearing next Tuesday.

Sali, who is not representing any of the suspects, spoke to KOIN 6 News on Wednesday, explaining that first court appearances are usually very brief.

“Nothing about today will be a determination of whether or not they are in fact guilty or not,” Sali said. “It would not surprise me at all, if, for example, if they are prohibited from communicating with each other, prohibited from communicating with other people involved in these sorts of protests or movements.”

He also expects – if the case hasn’t already – to go before a grand jury for consideration of more serious charges.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you see either broader or more serious charges brought down the line,” Sali said.

Security around the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Portland has visibly increased.

All 7 arrested militants will appear for a release hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for February 3, and their arraignment is set for February 24 at 1:30 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report