WTF Just Happened to the Oregon Militia, Explained - Rolling Stone
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WTF Just Happened to the Oregon Militia, Explained

A bloody FBI strike resulted in the capture of several top militia leaders, and the death of “Tarp Man”


Ammon Bundy, pictured here on January 5, was arrested in Oregon Tuesday.


The FBI has cut off the head of the snake of the militia occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon. 

The FBI announced Tuesday night that it had arrested eight militia members and that the leader of the standoff, Ammon Bundy, is in custody. One militant is dead, another wounded. Here’s what you need to know.

Did federal officials finally raid the wildlife refuge?
No. The militants got cocky and went on a road trip. The FBI intercepted a group of six occupiers traveling on the state highway to John Day, an east Oregon city 70 miles north of Burns, where militants had been scheduled to appear at an anti-government rally Tuesday evening.

Who did the FBI capture?
The FBI arrested Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan; the Bundy brothers’ bodyguard, Brian “Booda” Cavalier; the occupation’s security chief Ryan Payne; and Shawna Cox, a south Utah woman who had occasionally served as a spokesperson.

Did the militants put up a fight?
The FBI only reports that “shots were fired” and that one militant died. The FBI did not identify the deceased. However, The Oregonian confirms that LaVoy Finicum — the Arizona rancher better known to cable TV viewers as “Tarp Man” — was the one killed. Finicum had previously touted his willingness to die for this cause, insisting he would not be going to prison: “I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box.”

How have anti-government groups reacted to Finicum’s death?
On the Bundy Ranch Facebook page, Finicum is already being held up as a martyr: “LaVoy has been murdered by goverment [sic] officials…. One of liberty’s finest patriots is fallen. He will not go silent into eternity. Our appeal is to heaven.”

Was anyone else hurt in the shootout?
Another militant sustained what the FBI called non-life-threatening injuries. Ryan Bundy reportedly received a superficial gunshot wound and was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Audio posted on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page says, “Ryan has been shot in the arm.” 

Were there other arrests Tuesday night?
Near Burns, Peter Santilli, a patriot talk radio host from Ohio who had joined the occupiers, was arrested by the FBI. A militant named Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy was arrested by Oregon state police.

In Arizona, where he had traveled home to visit his family, the anti-Muslim militant Jon Ritzheimer also surrendered to the FBI. On Facebook hours earlier, Ritzheimer wrote, “the Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in.” Ritzheimer posted a video in which he can be seen hugging his daughters, saying, “Daddy’s gotta go — he’s gotta go away for a little while.”

What were the militants charged with?
According to the FBI, surviving militants are being charged with “a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats.”

What’s the status of the remaining occupiers?
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the occupation was ongoing. But a showdown there may be imminent

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