BURNS, Ore. (AP) – Lawyers for the jailed leader of an armed group occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge say they have recorded a phone call with Ammon Bundy telling the four people remaining at the refuge that it is “his authentic desire for them to stand down.”
In a statement Saturday, attorney Lissa Casey says “that message has been communicated to the remaining four and there’s nothing further to be done on our end… We have set our disagreements aside to save the lives. We’ve done what we can do.”
Through his attorneys, Bundy has repeatedly said he wants the people remaining at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to leave peacefully.
Near the refuge, a sign says “FBI Go Home” and roadblocks seal off 4 remaining occupiers — David Fry, Jeff Banta and married couple Sandy and Sean Anderson. They claim the FBI will let all but Sean Anderson go, and he believes it’s because of an online outburst:
“Don’t be afraid of those roadblocks, drive up there and shoot them. They are dishonorable, not following their oath.”
In a later clip, Anderson said he “thought that was the last day of my life and I was hoping American people would stand up.”
Ammon Bundy, through messages delivered first by his lawyer and now through a videotaped cell phone call with his wife Lisa Bundy, told the remaining occupiers to stand down and “go home to your families.”
But Sean Anderson rejected that plea from the now-jailed militia leader.
“Your husband and your brother-in-law and all your friends are in prison right now because they do what they want to do. I have to submit to people I don’t believe or trust. You say Ammon is directed by God. So am I.”
— Jennifer Dowling, KOIN 6 News —
During one early morning video posted by a man identified as David Fry, the occupiers express concerns about nearby aircraft and Fry gets jumpy when he believes he hears gunshots near the entrance.
“False alarm,” he soon says as he realizes the noise came from a generator or some other type of equipment.
“We’re not dead yet,” he says, repeating a theme that he and others have express through the weeks of the occupation. They’ve said they will only leave if given immunity from prosecution and are ready to die defending their position.
The Andersons said in a speakerphone conversation with a man who appears to be an attorney that was broadcast on YouTube that they are hoping for a miraculous end to the standoff with federal authorities.
Sean Anderson said: “We’re waiting for our miracle. If this doesn’t wake America up, I don’t know what will.”
Anderson, who is from Riggins, Idaho, goes on to say that he and the other occupiers are heroes. “Think about the Bible and all the heroes came from the bottom. We were just four drunks, we don’t have any military experience, and now we’re the shining stars,” he said.
At one point in the broadcast, Sandy Anderson says: “It’s either all of us out or all of us dead.”
Sean Anderson said he and the others want authorities to give them immunity from prosecution before they will leave the site. He asks the lawyer to “start making phone calls and get us amnesty.”
The FBI has said it’s trying to resolve the situation peacefully.
Residents are sick of it all
Meanwhile, some residents of the nearby town of Burns, Oregon, say they are sick of the disruption to their lives.
“We just want to go back to the way we were,” said Barbara Ormond, who owns a quilt store in downtown Burns, on Saturday. “We want everyone to leave us alone.”
While the standoff has led to filled-up hotels and restaurants, others say the conflict is upsetting to residents and pitting neighbor against neighbor as people have opposing views.
“It’s tearing the community apart,” said Bonnie Angleton, who owns a gift shop downtown. “I care about the people who live here.”
Kate Marsh, an artist in town, said many residents work for the government, while many others have their livelihoods depend on government agencies.
“There is some dissension in the community,” Marsh said. “Friends are fighting over the issue.”
Friday’s courtroom ruling
Ammon Bundy reiterated his call for the remaining holdout to go home, saying the occupation was about a message and “never about a standoff.”
Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Lissa Casey, says her client is not aligned with those remaining at the refuge and wants to go back to his family in Idaho.
The only woman arrested so far in the standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge will be allowed to go home while her case makes its way through the court system.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman says that won’t happen until after the armed occupation ends. The judge says she doesn’t want Shawna Cox to act on an impulse and return to the refuge.
Beckerman also said Joseph O’Shaughnessy doesn’t have to remain in custody, noting that he didn’t spend his nights at the refuge. Federal prosecutors objected, however, and he’ll stay in jail pending a Tuesday hearing.
Beckerman said she might also release citizen journalist Peter Santilli. But she said it’s a close call and wasn’t ready to make an immediate decision.
The other occupiers, whom Beckerman considered key players, were denied pre-trial release.
Court documents detail some of the evidence against the occupiers. The charges against the defendants say the refuge’s 16 employees have been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence.
A criminal complaint filed earlier this week makes reference to an online video that showed Bundy saying the group planned to stay for several years. He called on people to “come out here and stand,” adding: “We need you to bring your arms.”
A video posted Jan. 4 showed another defendant, Jon Ritzheimer, saying he was “100 percent willing to lay my life down.”
In a video posted a day later, Ritzheimer talked about Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and other occupiers taking up a “defensive posture” at the refuge.
Finicum was killed Tuesday night in a confrontation with the FBI and Oregon State Police on a remote road. Bundy and four others were arrested during the encounter.
At one point, a couple of dozen ranchers and other protesters were holed up at the refuge, but they began clearing out after the arrests and killing.
The FBI on Thursday released a video showing Finicum’s death, to counter claims he did nothing to provoke his killing.
In the aerial video, Finicum is pulled over in his truck but then takes off in the vehicle and plows into a snowbank because of a roadblock. He gets out and has his hands up at first, then appears to reach toward his jacket pocket at least twice. He is shot and falls to the snow.
The FBI said a loaded handgun was found in the pocket.
In a statement, Finicum’s family said “based on the information currently available to us, we do not believe LaVoy’s shooting death was justified.”
Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a tense 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.
Bellisle reported from Seattle. Associated Press reporters Terrence Petty and Steven DuBois contributed from Portland, Oregon.