BURNS – The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, undertaken 41 days ago with guns and threats, appeared near an end Thursday with the surrender of three of the last four holdouts, but the final protester threatened to kill himself.
Those taken into custody by the FBI were Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada, Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife Sandy, 48, of Riggins, Idaho. They each face a federal conspiracy charge for their role in the occupation, joining 12 others already arraigned on that charge.
At the final moment after the three had walked out, protester David Fry said he was feeling suicidal and wouldn’t give himself up. He demanded to talk to an FBI negotiator by phone as others repeatedly urged him to calm down and walk out.
“I’m a free man and I will die a free man,” Fry said as the frantic conversation played out on a live feed online.
As the minutes ticked away, Fry rebuffed supporters again and gain, saying he feared going to prison and losing his freedom.
“We will pray you out,” a woman’s voice was heard saying at one point, but then Fry said he was pointing a gun at his head.
“I’m really confused right now,” he said as the entreaties continued for him to leave the refuge.