Oregon authorities say it was the fact that Robert “LaVoy” Finicum reached for his waistband, which held his gun, that prompted officers to open fire on the group of armed Oregon wildlife-refuge occupiers, CNN reports.
Authorities caught up with the leaders of the group on U.S. Route 395, some distance away from the wildlife refuge they took over earlier this month. Officers conducted a traffic stop. One vehicle carrying members of the group stopped, but the second, allegedly driven by Finicum, took off at high speed in an attempt to flee, according to CNN.
Finicum attempted to veer off the main road and drove into a snowbank, CNN reports. When he exited the vehicle, FBI and state police ordered him to surrender. However, according to authorities, Finicum instead reached for his waistband, which held a gun. A SWAT team opened fire, killing Finicum. Ryan Bundy, brother of group leader Ammon Bundy, was hit in the arm.
Law enforcement says that the shooting was caught on camera by the SWAT team and that the FBI and Oregon police officials are contemplating releasing the footage, partially to combat claims that Finicum was killed while trying to surrender.
Meanwhile, the remaining five occupiers at the refuge have said that they would leave if they received assurances that they would not be arrested, the Associated Press reports.
AP reports that on the YouTube channel “DefendYourBase,” where the group has been issuing updates, a speaker said that the armed group had been told by authorities that “out of five people left here, four of us are allowed to leave.”
The FBI has not commented on the claims but said that it was trying to “empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.”
The speaker on the video insisted that the FBI has said that one of the remaining occupiers at the refuge faces a felony count of conspiracy to impede federal officers from carrying out their duties through force, intimidation or threats. It’s the same charge that the 11 people who have been arrested are currently facing. However, the spokesman said that he doesn’t think the person at the camp should face charges because he had limited involvement in the standoff.
Until authorities agree not to charge anyone else, “we are willing to stay,” the spokesman said.