The sheriff of Harney County says militants who’ve descended on southeast Oregon do not have his community’s interests in mind.
In a news release he sent Tuesday, Sheriff Dave Ward called the occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge “armed and unlawful.”
Ward said he asked Ammon Bundy and the rest of the occupiers to leave Harney County earlier in January — and they refused.
“From that point forward, the occupiers at the refuge have been considered by law enforcement (local, state and federal) to be criminals — and they need to vacate the refuge,” Ward wrote. “It’s clear at this point that the Bundy group does not have the interests of Harney County in mind — they’re in it for their own agenda.”
Ward also listed a series of events in which individuals “heading to or from the refuge” have been arrested or cited.
On Thursday, Dwane Kirkland of Montana was arrested on charges of felon in possession of a firearm. On Friday, police arrested a 62-year-old Oregon man on probable cause for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Law enforcement recovered two stolen refuge vehicles at the time of the arrest. On Sunday, police cited a California man for driving without a license after crashing a van near Burns.
“We continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to protect the Harney County community during the armed and unlawful occupation occurring at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” Ward said.