The FBI and Oregon State Police arrested three more people Wednesday linked to the seizure of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, according to reports. The men were arrested after checkpoints were formed by the FBI on major roads in and around the wildlife refuge.
Authorities detained eight men in total and later released five of them, a report by ABC News said. The arrested men were identified as Duane Leo Ehmer, 45, Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, and Jason S. Patrick, 43. Ehmer and Anderson were arrested around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday while Patrick was arrested at 7:40 p.m. The three men were reportedly in contact with FBI officials and chose to turn themselves in.
"Each man faces 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," the FBI said, according to ABC News. The agency is reportedly working to clear the area of the undisclosed number of armed men, who have occupied the refuge, "in the safest way possible."
So far, Ammon Bundy, who was believed to be leader of the group, has been arrested with six others and the court has ordered them to be detained until Friday as they were considered a flight risk and lacked ties to the state.
According to a report by LA Times, Ehmer had become a symbol for the group of occupiers as he went on morning patrols on his Hellboy, carrying an American flag. Patrick had reportedly become leader of the group after the arrest of the top leadership Tuesday.
Bundy appeared in court Wednesday and asked the remaining people at the refuge to go home. “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here. Please stand down,” Bundy said, through his lawyer Mike Arnold, according to KTVZ, a local news network, adding: “I'm asking the federal government to allow the people at the refuge to go home without being prosecuted.”
“Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home,” Arnold added, citing Bundy.
The Oregon Public Broadcasting reported late Wednesday, according to KTVZ, that five people still remained at the facility and that the FBI was negotiating with them to end the seizure of the refuge since Jan. 2.
Authorities had reportedly been letting most of them go provided they were not violent. A live feed run Wednesday by David Fry from Ohio, one of the occupiers, showed mixed feelings among the group. While some were ready to leave, others were counting their weapons and ammunition.
One of the defiant occupiers was seen in an earlier feed Wednesday, before Bundy’s appeal, saying: “There are no laws in this United States now! This is a free-for-all Armageddon!” He also urged others to join in and said that if “they stop you from getting here, kill them!”
Harney County Sheriff David Ward said, according to LA Times: “This has been tearing our community apart,” adding: “There doesn't have to be bloodshed in our community.”
He also said: “We have issues with the way things are going in our government; we have a responsibility as citizens to act on those in an appropriate manner. We don't arm up and rebel.... This can't happen anymore. This can't happen in America.”
The people occupying the refuge have demanded that the government let go of the area for public use, like grazing and logging. The latest standoff comes after Bundy’s father, Cliven, was involved in an armed standoff with federal agents in Nevada in 2014, after he refused to pay grazing taxes for his cattle for over 20 years.