Law enforcement agents have moved in to establish checkpoints at the still-occupied Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon, escalating this standoff further after a deadly night in Oregon’s high desert.
After a shootout several miles from the refuge that resulted in one standoff leader dead and several other leaders arrested, the FBI has established a new perimeter to keep outsiders from joining the militiamen still holed up at the refuge, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The FBI will be searching vehicles moving through the area and will arrest those who do not cooperate.
OPB reported that inside the wildlife preserve, tensions have also been rising as the remaining militiamen held a vote on whether to stay or go and decided to stay put.
OPB reporter John Sepulvado tweeted “they will not leave, ‘we’re not cowards like the rest,’ say they’re prepared to die.”
they will not leave, “we’re not cowards like the rest,” say they’re prepared to die. 2/2 #MalheurOccupation
— John Sepulvado (@JohnLGC) January 27, 2016
During an interview with NPR, Sepulvado described the scene at the 187,000-acre refuge, which had transformed substantially over night. He said there are “convoys of federal trucks, armored trucks, and a lot of police cars behind them, zooming to the refuge on different roads.”
The establishment of checkpoints is the latest development in the standoff. For more than three weeks, individuals at Malheur were free to come and go as they pleased much to the chagrin of locals in the community. At one point, militiamen drove wildlife refuge trucks into town to buy groceries, and one of them was arrested.