A day after several militants who had been occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon were arrested and one was killed, law enforcement officials said the occupiers had been given "ample opportunities" to leave the refuge peacefully.
"Instead, they have chosen to threaten and intimidate the America they claim to love," FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing said during a press conference Wednesday.
He added that law enforcement was working on finding a peaceful resolution to the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the town of Burns.
As we reported, five of the seven militants arrested in Oregon were apprehended at a traffic stop while en route to a community meeting. One member of the group was shot and killed during that operation. Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said he was "disappointed" that the carefully planned traffic stop that was meant to bring a peaceful resolution to the weeks-long occupation "ended badly."
Ward was emotional when he called for an end to the occupation, saying the stress from the occupation hasn't been isolated to the refuge.
"This has been tearing our community apart," Ward said. "It's time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on. It doesn't have to be bloodshed in our community. If we have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on them in an appropriate manner. We don't arm up and rebel. We work through the appropriate channels."
Ward paused and shook his head before continuing:
"This can't happen anymore. This can't happen in America, and it can't happen in Harney County."
Bill Williams, the U.S. attorney for the district of Oregon, said the seven militants arrested in the state would appear in front of a federal magistrate at 1:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday. He said an eighth member of the militant group who turned himself in to authorities Tuesday in Arizona was expected to return to Oregon for a court appearance at a later date.