The four remaining holdouts in the standoff at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon say they will leave if authorities drop charges that have been filed against one of them.
In a video posted Thursday to a YouTube channel that the occupiers have used to issue updates, a voice believed to be that of David Fry says the group wants to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but only if none of them face criminal charges.
Fry said they are concerned because an FBI negotiator said one of the men, identified only as Sean, has a warrant for his arrest for conspiracy to interfere with federal employees, a felony.
“We’re just asking (the negotiator) to drop the charges and we’re wiling to go and nobody dies,” Fry said in the video. “But if they’re not willing to do that we’re all just kind of willing to stay here and see what happens.”
There were five people left at the refuge when the video was posted, but later in morning, just four remained.
The video message comes one day after Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed militia group who was among eight militia members arrested this week, called on the remaining occupiers to stand down and go home.
One of the occupiers, 54-year-old LaVoy Finicum, died in a shootout that broke out during the arrest in Oregon on Tuesday.
Since the occupation started on Jan. 2, Bundy and his supporters have said they would not leave the refuge unless two local ranchers were released from state prison and federal lands were transferred to their ownership.
Fry said the criminal charge is the only thing standing in the way of them leaving the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge peacefully.
“Really they’re going to kill five people for refusing to drop a charge on a man,” he said in the video.
Police have established roadblocks and checkpoints at several locations around the refuge headquarters to prevent people from entering. And anyone who leaves is stopped, identified, and searched.
Watch the video here:
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.