BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — After asking that everyone shout, “Hallelujah!” the last of 4 holdouts occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered around 11 a.m. Thursday, bringing an end to the 41-day saga.
Three occupiers — Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson and Jeff Banta — surrendered to federal officials around 9:30 a.m.
throughout the occupation has been erratic, began yelling at the FBI and refused to surrender “unless my grievances are heard.”
He remained and refused to leave. Supporters encouraged him to leave, which could be heard on a live stream hosted by Gavin Seim.
He listed paying taxes as one of his chief grievances, and wanted “to find a way to stop paying taxes” as a condition for surrendering. But about 10 minutes later, he said he was tired and wanted a pizza.
He ultimately demanded everyone say “Hallelujah!” and he would walk out. He could be heard over the live stream being arrested by the FBI.
Charges against the four
The FBI released a statement after the arrests, saying that the four will be charged with one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.
These are the same charges the other 16 involved in the occupation of the refuge are facing.
The four arrested Thursday will be arraigned in federal court in Portland on Friday.
Senator Ron Wyden released a statement after the arrests, saying he was pleased the 41 day standoff was finally over.
“Oregonians across our state are grateful to the Harney County Sheriff’s Department, federal law enforcement, and local and state officials for ending this standoff without additional loss of life. The steady resolve of the Burns community and Harney County leaders like County Judge Steve Grasty and Sheriff Dave Ward have kept this sad episode from sparking something much worse,” Wyden said.
The beginning of the end
The tense standoff played out on the Internet beginning Wednesday night when the FBI surrounded the refuge.
Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore arrived in Burns on Thursday morning to show her support. She and Christian evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham were escorted to the refuge by the FBI to assist with the surrender.
Fiore said the group was not giving up, just moving the fight to a “new location.”
Ahead of the surrender, the four in the refuge claimed they were unarmed but said that there were loaded guns on the premises.
Sean Anderson said he and wife Sandy will walk out holding an American flag. Earlier Thursday morning, Sean Anderson said “if the FBI ‘double crosses us, all deals are off.”
The four are remnants of an armed group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land-use policies.
“We’re not surrendering, we’re turning ourselves in. It’s going against everything we believe in,” Anderson said Wednesday night after agreeing to stand down.