BURNS, Ore. (KOIN) — The FBI surrounded the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday as they continued negotiations with 4 remaining occupiers.
FBI agents reportedly attempted to approach an occupier who rode an ATV beyond established barricades outside the refuge around 4:30 p.m. The occupier, “returned to the encampment at the refuge at a high rate of speed.”
Gavin Seim, who is allegedly friends with occupier David Fry, broadcast audio from the encounter via YouTube livestream.
The audio reportedly came from a cell phone call with Fry. Occupiers Sean and Sandy Anderson were also heard on the livestream.
Seim said the refuge was surrounded by military vehicles around 5:45 p.m.
“You can hear them trying to negotiate them out there,” he said via livestream.
He claimed the occupiers’ guns were on their shoulders.
“You promised you wouldn’t do this!” occupier Sandy Anderson was heard screaming. “Our hands are down, our weapons are down.”
She was relieved to hear Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore was aware of the situation. Fiore, who later joined the call, said she recently landed at PDX and requested the FBI bring her to the refuge to negotiate a peaceful exit.
“We cannot afford more bloodshed,” Fiore said. She left PDX shortly before 7:30 p.m. in a car driven by Mike Arnold, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer. She said they were “speeding to Burns”, although the FBI said no one would be allowed on the refuge until the occupiers surrender peacefully.
The occupiers described seeing snipers on top of nearby hills.
“We won’t shoot first,” Sean Anderson said.
Fiore told the group the FBI would “not make a move” or escalate the situation Wednesday night. She said she would meet with Reverend Franklin Graham at 8 a.m.
Sandy Anderson said the others will “turn themselves in tomorrow when Franklin and Michele get [there].” She said the 3 want her to agree to it and she “will for them.”
“But I want everybody to know that we’ll never see the light of day again,” she said.
They said they shouldn’t be punished for merely expressing themselves and they always have their weapons with them.
The FBI released a press release regarding the situation:
“It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully. However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.
Fiore said “the world is watching” as she led the group in prayer. She also said Ammon Bundy was on a “teaching mission” to help others understand the U.S. Constitution when he was arrested along Hwy 317.
Fiore did her best to keep the occupiers calm and provide encouragement.
“We’re gonna make it through this and we’re gonna write about it,” Fiore said, a second reference to writing a book about their time occupying the refuge.
“We’ll see,” Sean Anderson replied. “I don’t have any trust in the federal government.”
Throughout the streamed conversation, occupiers mentioned the involvement of Reverend Franklin Graham, the Christian evangelist son of Billy Graham.
In early February, Graham’s spokesperson confirmed he spoke by phone with holdouts and federal representatives.
Rancher Cliven Bundy posted to the official Bundy Ranch Facebook page Wednesday night, claiming he was heading to the Harney County Resource Center.