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Malheur Update: Message from the Harney County Sheriff

From felons with guns to people harassing media and law enforcment, the Harney County Sheriff David Ward has had it with VanillaISIS and their occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

In today's press release, Ward details run-ins with the law the occupiers have had while in Eastern Oregon, as well as events surrounding the almost three-week standoff.

He wraps it up saying, "I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. 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.

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. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word."

 

MESSAGE FROM SHERIFF WARD (TUESDAY, JAN. 19, 5:30 P.M.)

News Release from Harney Co. Sheriff
Posted on FlashAlert: January 19th, 2016 5:29 PM

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. 

Some events have occurred in the community involving criminals heading to or from the refuge. These are listed below: 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 14 -- Oregon State Police (OSP) stopped a vehicle for a lighting violation. The driver -- Dwane Kirkland, of Hamilton, Montana -- was arrested on charges of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He was in possession of a handgun and a rifle. The vehicle he was driving had switched plates and was uninsured. 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15 -- OSP arrested Kenneth Medenbach, of LaPine, at the Safeway in Burns. He was arrested on probable cause for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. OSP recovered two vehicles stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during this encounter. 

Occupants of the second vehicle fled the scene before police arrival. The Sheriff's Office is working to identify and arrest these suspects. If you have any information, please contact the sheriff's office with tips at 541-573-1362

Every time a trespasser from the refuge operates a vehicle that belongs to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they are committing a crime. We will not tolerate it when they come into our community driving stolen vehicles. 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17 -- OSP discovered a traffic crash on Greenhouse Lane near Highway 20. An investigation revealed the driver -- Darrow Burke, of Ukiah, California -- lost control on an icy corner and rolled. He was not injured, but was cited for no operator's license. Mr. Burke told OSP troopers he had been at the refuge for the past week. 

Law enforcement has also had multiple contacts with non-Harney County citizens who claim they are in the community to act as intermediaries between the FBI and the trespassers. Many of these people are armed with handguns and assault rifles. These persons -- as well as the trespassers -- are wearing police/military-style body armor when contacting law enforcement. They continue to conduct surveillance on law enforcement and have harassed members of the media. 

We will continue to work with our partners to keep Harney County safe while the FBI works toward a peaceful resolution at the refuge. Additional law enforcement resources have been moved towards locations to be poised to react to any situation that may occur. This includes notifying the hospital of more people in town and ensuring they have the capability to handle any medical emergency. 

Today's events include: 

- Today at noon, a "Rally for Malheur" was held in cities throughout Oregon, hosted by the Audubon society. 

Tonight at 7 p.m., Harney County is hosting its second Community Meeting in the Burns High School gym. We encourage the community to show up to hear the latest updates and make your voices heard. 

The Bundy group continues to break its repeated promises to leave the refuge if the community asked them to do so. On Monday, January 4, the community did just that -- and the Bundy group failed to leave. 

I then personally met with Ammon Bundy, who has proclaimed to be the leader of the occupation, on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to discuss a peaceful resolution. I asked Ammon and his group to leave, which he stated he would not do. 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. 

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. We will continue to work to keep you safe while they continue to not keep their word.