The Bundy family claimed Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was unarmed and had his hands up when he was shot and killed by FBI agents during a confrontation Tuesday near Burns, Oregon.
Finicum, 55, was part of the group of protestors occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Burns. At least eight others, including protest leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were arrested after the FBI and Oregon State police confronted them while they were traveling along U.S. Highway 395.
Cliven Bundy posted an audio message on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page Tuesday night claiming that his son Ammon told two family members that he was arrested, his brother Ryan was shot in the arm, and Finicum was murdered in “cold-blood.”
“LaVoy has been cold-blood murdered,” Ammon Bundy reportedly told his wife Lisa. “He had his hands in the air and said he was unarmed and they shot him.”
Bundy’s nephew, Steve Bundy, also told the Las Vegas Sun that Finicum was “cold-blood murdered,” and he said there would be “retribution.”
“There has to be retribution,” Steve Bundy said. “But we’re not going to ruin the element of surprise.”
Arianna Finicum Brown, 26, one of LaVoy Finicum’s 11 children, told The Oregonian that her father was a “good man, through and through,” and said, “He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved.”
Finicum was a spokesperson for, and a member of, the the group of protesters that has been occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters for the last month, in support of two ranchers who were forced to serve mandatory minimum sentences after they were convicted of arson on federal lands.
Five of the protesters were arrested on felony charges of “conspiracy to impede federal officers” Tuesday after FBI agents stopped a vehicle traveling on Highway 395 from Burns to John Day. The protestors included Ammon Bundy, 40; Ryan Bundy, 43; Brian Cavalier, 44; Shawna Cox, 59; and Ryan Payne, 32.
Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, and Peter Santilli, 50 were also reportedly taken into FBI custody separately in Burns, along with Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, in Arizona.
Following the confrontation, the FBI has not released details as to why the men were stopped, or why a shooting broke out, but it has set up checkpoints around the wildlife refuge.
One of the remaining protestors at the refuse headquarters, Jason Patrick, told Reuters that protesters would continue to occupy the refuge until there was a “redress of grievances.”
“I’ve heard ‘peaceful resolution’ for weeks now and now there’s a cowboy who is my friend who is dead,” Patrick said, “so prepare for the peaceful resolution.”
Patrick also compared Finicum’s death to the death of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old who was shot by Cleveland police in 2014. The officers responsible were not charged.
“The government can kill who they want for whatever reason they want with impunity,” Patrick said.
[UPDATE: Ammon Bundy Calls for Fellow Protestors to ‘Stand Down, Go Home’]