On Tuesday an exchange of shots ended the life of one man and led to the arrest of two others in Oregon state. The Bundy brothers, Ammon, 40, and Ryan, 43, had been protesting against the government’s prosecution of two local ranchers. Since January 2nd of this year the brothers and their entourage had occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a move which shocked and angered many state residents.
The dead man was named as 55 year old Robert “LaVoy” Finicum of Arizona – a rancher who had been acting as the Bundys’ spokesman. The showdown happened on US Highway 395 as police confronted the group en route to a community meeting. In total eight people are now in custody. Other members of the protest group still remain in the refuge in the wake of the shooting.
Ammon Bundy reported to his wife in a phone call that the group had been co-operative prior to the shooting. Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore told the press, “It’s very unfortunate. The only saving grace is there’s six witnesses to it…My perspective is our government has acted lawless and we have got to stop it.”
The standoff has been closely followed across the nation, with many voicing doubts over the authorities’ handling of the affair. For weeks police have steered well clear of confronting the brothers, reportedly fearing a repeat situation of the infamous Waco siege of 1993, which ended in the deaths of some 86 people.
The protest stems from the imprisonment of father and son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond. The pair were convicted of causing arson in 2012. Subsequently a judge ruled their sentence to have been too lenient and ordered them back to jail. The case caused huge controversy in Harney County, with the Bundy brothers foremost among the protestors. The brothers led a small group of anti-government activists to the wildlife refuge and had been holed up there ever since.