Oregon Sheriff Says Armed Militia Members Will Face Criminal Charges

January 6, 2016 Updated: January 6, 2016
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The sheriff of the Oregon county where an armed group has taken over a federal building says the members will face charges once the occupation comes to an end.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward told OPB that the FBI is handling a criminal case against the armed men, who have occupied the building at the Malheir National Wildlife Refuge in Burns since Saturday.

Ward said FBI officials told him the men will definitely face charges, although he offered no specifics. The men are part of a self-described militia of anti-federalists. They demand the federal lands be turned over to locals.

“The bureau has assured me that those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will at some point face charges,” Ward said.

LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona, who is part of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge speaks with reporters during a news conference at the the refuge Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Law enforcement had yet to take any action Tuesday against the group numbering close to two dozen who are upset over federal land policy. Finicum said the group would examine the underlying land ownership transactions to begin to "unwind it," stating he was eager to leave Oregon.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona, who is part of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge speaks with reporters during a news conference at the the refuge Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, near Burns, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“They have an opportunity right now to work towards a better solution, and not face further charges.”

No violence has occurred, and Ward said he and other officials are still searching for peaceful solutions.

Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, one of the group members, told the Associated Press on Tuesday evening that he believes federal officials have issued warrants for the arrest of five group members—including himself and Ammon Bundy—but Finicum offered no details.

The FBI in Portland referred calls to the Harney County Joint Information Center, which said in a statement that it had no information on arrests or arrest warrants and that authorities were “still working on a peaceful resolution.”