FBI negotiators kept channels open today with the remaining occupiers of a rural Oregon wildlife refuge in hopes of ending the nearly four-week standoff, as the group's leaders faced new court hearings after their arrest. The Washington Post reports that as the sun rose over the brushland in eastern Oregon, there were no indications of a breakthrough in the protest over federal control of ranch lands, an armed occupation that has opened debates over government reach in the West and the limits of civil action in opposition. Four holdouts have stayed hunkered down in a barricaded federal building. FBI officials moved aggressively to dispel questions about the shooting death Tuesday of one of the most high-profile occupiers. A video appears to show the man reaching for a loaded handgun before being shot by an Oregon state trooper. While the video is low-quality and leaves room for interpretation, FBI spokesman Greg Bretzing said the officers who fired at LaVoy Finicum believed he made two moves with his right hand to reach toward the loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun inside his jacket.
Finicum, a cowboy-hat-wearing spokesman for the occupiers who took over a building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns on Jan. 2, was killed in an operation that also resulted in the arrests of five people, including the group's leader, Ammon Bundy, and his brother, Ryan. With 11 occupiers in custody, just four were left at the refuge, resisting fresh calls from their jailed leader to “turn yourselves in and do not use physical force.” Bretzing said Oregon state authorities were conducting a formal investigation into the use of deadly force. He said the FBI was taking the unusual step of quickly releasing the graphic video to counter what he called “inaccurate” and “inflammatory” public statements about the shooting.