Police Open Fire on Arizona Militants in Oregon, Killing One; Several Arrested
John Ritzheimer now is pleading with his followers to send legal-assistance funds.
**This article has been updated to reflect the latest information.
The 25-day armed occupation of a federal building on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, took a radical turn Tuesday night when law enforcement intercepted a convoy of militants about 20 miles away from the building.
After weeks of pressure on the federal government to do something – arrest the men, raid the building, or even just cut off the electricity and block the road — the Oregonian newspaper reports that action finally was taken.
The Portland paper says FBI agents and state police fatally shot LaVoy Finicum, the Arizona-based spokesman for the militants, and arrested seven of the others, including Arizona businessman and militia leader Ammon Bundy.
According to authorities, Ammon’s brother, Ryan Bundy, also was shot during the chaos and now is in FBI custody after he was treated at a local hospital for minor wounds.
The five others arrested include: Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox, Ryan Waylen Payne, Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, and Peter Santilli. A live-stream video from inside the compound shows there are still militants inside, though it remains unclear how long law enforcement will let them stay.
They have vowed to remain, and many have said they are willing to die for this cause.
Jon Ritzheimer, another Arizona-based militia leader, says he was back in Peoria, Arizona, visiting his family when news broke of the arrests Tuesday night.
“I came home to visit my family. The feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in,” he wrote on Facebook. Law enforcement “are charging me with conspiracy to impede a federal officer. I need an attorney. My family needs help and I am hoping they grant me bail.”
According to law enforcement, Ritzheimer did turn himself in late Tuesday night to the Peoria Police Department, and he was booked into Maricopa County's Fourth Avenue Jail.
Jon Ritzheimer booked into the 4th Ave Jail late last night by the FBI. pic.twitter.com/sSdTlxdbjw— Deputy Enriquez (@DeputyEnriquez) January 27, 2016
According to a statement from the FBI, "Ritzheimer faces one 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, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372."
During the 25-day occupation, Ritzheimer spoke frequently about his two young daughters and his wife, saying he’d rather be with them than holed up in a federal building but that he had no choice but to partake in the occupation – he accidentally rose to Internet fame earlier this month when he posted an emotional video to YouTube explaining to his daughters that “Daddy swore an oath” to the U.S. Constitution.
Like many of the other militants, Ritzheimer posted dozens of videos from inside the occupation during the last few weeks. Many of his rants lay out or otherwise detail his belief that the federal government is tyrannical and overreaching, though some very comical.
In what is likely to be his final public message for quite a while, Ritzheimer put up a video showing him saying goodbye to his daughters before he turned himself over to the police last night.
“Are you going back to Oregon?” one of them asks him?
“No,” he replies, “but Daddy’s going away for a little while.”
I came home to visit my family. The Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in. I need an attorney so I can get back to my girls. Please help my family. Donations can be made at www.rogueinfidel.com to help with legal fees. Thank you all in advance. I just want the country to live by the Constitution and I just want the government to abide by it.Posted by Jon Ritzheimer on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Along with the video, he posts one final plea to all of his thousands of supporters, followers, and fans across the country:
“Please help my family. Donations can be made at www.rogueinfidel.com to help with legal fees. Thank you all in advance. I just want the country to live by the Constitution and I just want the government to abide by it.”
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