BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — Amid reports the FBI may be locking down ways the militants can communicate with people outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, KOIN 6 News has not been able to contact those inside.
Phone numbers for Jeff Banta, David Fry, Sean Anderson and Sandy Anderson were not working when KOIN 6 News called Sunday morning. OPB reports Fry said 3 of the 4 occupiers can’t make or receive phone calls, and he told OPB their access to the Internet is gone.
On Saturday, a recorded message from jailed militia leader Ammon Bundy to the remaining occupiers, urging them to leave and go home, was ignored
“Your husband and your brother-in-law and all your friends are in prison right now because they do what they want to do,” Sean Anderson said Saturday, “I have to submit to people I don’t believe or trust. You say Ammon is directed by God. So am I.”
A day after a rolling protest through the streets of Burns over the death of militia spokesperson LaVoy Finicum — and a day before an expected militia rally in front of the Harney County Courthouse by the extremist group 3% of Idaho — some people arrived at the roadblocks in support of the remaining occupiers.
Quick recap of the case
The takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began January 2 immediately after protesters marched through the streets of Burns over the impending return to prison of ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond.
The Hammonds were convicted in 2012 for arson on federal land. The trial judge sentenced them to considerably less time than the federally-mandated 5-year sentence. Prosecutors appealed the light sentence, the appeal was upheld and the Hammonds were ordered back to prison to finish their sentences.
They surrendered to prison authorities in California on January 4 and have publicly distanced themselves from the militia and its occupation.
The Bundy brothers — Ammon and Ryan — led a group of armed occupiers to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge late in the afternoon of January 2. Their stated goals were to free the Hammonds from prison and to return the refuge to the people of Harney County.
Over the course of the month of January, the militia held near-daily press briefings — that never actually provided much information — and held their ground at the refuge despite their public statements they would leave if the community wanted them to leave.
The community did want them to go, and said so repeatedly. Ammon Bundy even went to one community meeting and was offered free passage out of town by Judge Steven Grasty.
Ammon Bundy, like his father Cliven Bundy in previous confrontations, said he is following directions from God and invokes his family’s faith when explaining the anti-government movement he’s leading.
On January 26, the Bundy brothers, Finicum and 4 others got into 2 vehicles and headed toward Grant County for a reported community meeting at a senior center. Along the way, the FBI and Oregon State Police intercepted the caravan. The people in the Jeep, including Ammon Bundy, surrendered. But Finicum, driving a white truck, fled and tried to evade an FBI roadblock.
He got out of the car with his hands up. But then he repeatedly went inside his coat toward his waistband — where he had a 9mm semi-automatic handgun — and was shot to death by an OSP trooper. The others inside the truck were carefully arrested.
The FBI released video of the traffic stop, including the fatal shooting of Finicum, and said they also found a number of loaded weapons inside the truck.
The next day, 9 more people left the refuge, and of those 3 were arrested. An 11th person, Jon Ritzheimer, surrendered to authorities in Arizona and will be extradited to Oregon. At this moment, all 11 are in federal custody.
Shawna Cox, the only woman arrested in the case so far, was released from Multnomah County Jail on Friday, records show. A judge originally said she would not be released until the remaining occupiers left the refuge.
It is unclear what conditions led to her release.
The FBI has, so far, patiently waited for the remaining 4 militants to surrender. But they want pardons for all before they will turn themselves in.