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Law & Justice

Just 4 Militants Remain At Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Amanda Peacher

Update: 3:00 p.m. -  Law enforcement officers have driven a large convoy of vehicles into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Four vehicles were seen leaving the refuge toward Burns shortly after entering. 

It’s unclear if the remaining four militants at the refuge have surrendered. But earlier today, two of them said they were willing to end the occupation if they could avoid charges.

Update: 10:00 a.m. - A video posted by the holdouts occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge says the remaining members of the armed group will leave if none of them face arrest.

The statement was posted early Thursday to the YouTube channel "DefendYourBase," which the group has been using to give live updates from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. David Fry has made frequent posts, but no face was visible in the video.

It shows a campfire while a man says authorities told the group that "out of five people left here, four of us are allowed to leave."

The video says the FBI told them that one of the remaining occupiers faces a federal felony charge. The video says "we are willing to stay here" unless authorities agree to drop it.

The FBI has established checkpoints around the refuge. Eleven other people have been arrested in connection to the standoff.

Just four people remain at the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 

The group spoke with OPB by phone Thursday morning. 

The remaining group includes David Frye of Ohio, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada. 

“We all want to leave,” Sandy Anderson said. “We’re here, and we’re worried we’re going to die.”

Three militants turned themselves in at checkpoints outside the refuge Wednesday afternoon and face felony charges. 

Police said another five people were stopped and then allowed to leave the refuge since law enforcement blocked roads around the area.

David Fry said he spoke to an FBI negotiator three times in the last 24 hours. He said the group is prepared to leave peacefully, but fears arrest. 

One man, Sean Anderson, had been told there was a federal warrant for his arrest on charges of interfering with federal employees. Fry said FBI negotiators told him the others would be allowed to leave without facing arrest. 

“As a group, we were willing to leave peacefully,” Fry said. “But they want to arrest Sean, and take Sean out, and put him in jail. We don’t want to leave Sean in that situation, because that feels unfair.” 

Fry said it was not clear to him why Anderson had been singled out for arrest, because Anderson had spent comparatively little time at the refuge. 

He said the four had eaten scrambled eggs for breakfast, and had spoken with their families last night. 

“They don’t want us to die. They’re begging us to come home. Go to prison, for five years, is what they’re saying.” 

Fry said people leaving the refuge had taken most of the food and supplies, but that many guns had been left behind.  

He fears being arrested and spending time in prison, in part because he’s been harassed on social media and over email for his participation in the occupation. He said people have called for him to be raped in prison and to be killed. 

“They were sharing my home address,” he said. “That’s kind of freaky.”