The Oregon militia standoff is finally over

The FBI Are Bringing the Oregon Armed Occupation To A Close
The FBI Are Bringing the Oregon Armed Occupation To A Close

After several dramatic moments, federal agents on Thursday morning finally managed to end the standoff with a self-described armed militia group who had been holed up at an Oregon wildlife refuge for more than a month.

A tense night of negotiating between the four remaining gunmen and federal officials who had them surrounded resulted in all but one turning themselves over to authorities.

But 27-year-old Ohio native David Fry was unwilling to hand over his weapons and walk off the Malheur reserve. Supporters spent hours talking him down from the brink of suicide, as his voice was broadcast via live stream to tens of thousands of people on YouTube.

Shortly after 2 p.m. ET, after threatening to take his own life, he finally stood down and peacefully left the reserve.

Things began to unravel for the group on Wednesday night, when Cliven Bundy -- the Nevada rancher who started an earlier scuffle with federal authorities in 2014 -- was arrested peacefully in Portland while on his way to the refuge. His two sons, Ammon and Ryan, were key players in the wildlife refuge takeover and are already in custody in Portland after a dramatic arrest in which one man was killed.

READ MORE: In tense standoff, FBI closes in on 4 Oregon refuge holdouts

FBI officials then surrounded the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they had several tense hours of back and forth with the last remaining holdouts in the weeks-long occupation. Three of those people peacefully handed themselves over to federal agents -- Jeffrey Banta, 47, of Elko, Nevada, Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife, Sandy Anderson, of Riggins, Idaho.

"I declare war against the federal government because they have been trampling on my first amendment rights, so there is no way to beat this any more but liberty or death," said Fry, the final holdout, as he threatened to shoot himself.

For hours before the confrontation ended, the four remaining armed occupiers were in constant contact with Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore, who had flown in to support them and attempt to deescalate the situation.

Evangelical minister Franklin Graham also travelled to the refuge to facilitate the handover. The hours of uncertainty were broadcast on a YouTube live stream hosted by one of the occupier's acquaintances, conservative activist Gavin Seim, and often reached a fever pitch as they wavered between committing to peacefully leaving and shouting about the injustice of the American system.

"We're at a crossroads right now, I don't know what the right thing is," Sean Anderson could be heard saying on the broadcast around 10 a.m. "If they double cross us, all bets are off."

Three of the foursome followed through on a promise they had made on Wednesday night to turn themselves over to the FBI in the morning as long as Graham, and Fiore escorted them out.

"We're gonna see you here in just a minutes, and you all do everything they told you to do and it's going to work out great," Graham reassured the four armed militia members on the phone.

READ MORE: These are the armed militants occupying a federal building in Oregon

According to Fiore, eight other state lawmakers from Arizona and Nevada were also in the town of Burns on Thursday morning to support the protesters.

The occupiers shouted at officials, who surrounded them in armored vehicles on Wednesday night, to give them one more day. They promised to exit the refuge Thursday morning if evangelist, Rev. Franklin Graham, and Fiore, a gun-rights advocate, escorted them out. On Thursday morning, Fiore and Graham travelled with several FBI agents to a meeting point near the refuge, after hours of talking down the militants.

"No one is going to get physical," said Fiore, repeatedly, as the four militants took turns venting their frustrations with the government on the call.

The tone took a frantic turn though after the three left the building. And Fry's voice quickly grew frantic.

"Unless my grievances are heard I will not come," shouted Fry.

He took a similar stance on the live stream the night before when Fry, who seemed to be the most unhinged of the group, shouted at the authorities multiple times, asking them to kill him: "I'm done talking, I'm done praying, that's it," he screamed.

Hours later, he finally left the reserve.

Click through images form the Oregon wildlife refuge protest:

Dozens of news outlets lined the highway near the entrance to the park in anticipation of the final handover.

According to an FBI statement, agents closed in on the remaining occupiers after one of them rode an ATV near the boundary of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge around 4:30 p.m. As officials approached the occupier, they sped back to the refuge.

"It has never been the FBI's desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully. However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area," said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.