STATEMENT BY GREG BRETZING, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI PORTLAND, 1/27/2016
Good morning. My name is Greg Bretzing, and I am the Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Oregon.
For the past month, the FBI — along with our partners at the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the many other federal and local agencies — have had a very deliberate and measured response. We worked diligently to bring the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a peaceful end. Some of those actions were seen, some unseen. But, because this is an on-going investigation with some armed individuals illegally remaining in the refuge, we cannot get into details as to every action tried or taken.
I will say that the armed occupiers were given ample opportunities to leave peacefully. They were given the opportunity to negotiate. As outsiders to Oregon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homes and have their grievances heard through legal and appropriate means. They chose, instead, to threaten the very America they profess to love with violence, intimidation and criminal acts.
Yesterday, the FBI and our partners took the necessary actions to start bringing this situation to an end. We worked to ensure that we could do so in the safest way possible — removing the threat of danger from innocent citizens. We continue to work to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.
Eight people were arrested, and one man died yesterday as we attempted to take him into custody. Because there is an on-going investigation by the Deschutes County Major Crimes Team on behalf of OSP related to this piece of the investigation, I will not be able to comment on the specifics.
I would, however, ask for your patience as the shooting investigation works its way through that outside process. At the appropriate time, the Medical Examiner’s office will release the decedent’s identity, and OSP will address the details of the event.
Let me be clear: It is fully and unequivocally the behavior and the choices made by the armed occupiers that have led us to where we are today. And, as the FBI and our partners have demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.
Containment road blocks are now in place around the Refuge. The disruption that the good people of Harney County have had to endure over the last few months will continue — for now.
If the people at the refuge want to leave, they can do so through the checkpoints where they will be identified. If they have questions or concerns, they can call the negotiators at the number that has been provided to them.
As I conclude I want to share my promise to the people who live and work here — who are raising their families here – that we will continue to look for safe, peaceful and productive ways to end this armed occupation. We recognize that the sooner we do that, the sooner the citizens of Harney County can start healing this community they cherish so much.