A member of the small, armed group that has been occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon says he believes federal officials have issued warrants for the arrest of five group members.
LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher, told reporters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday evening that he is one of the people who is a subject of the warrants, but he offered no details.
Background: Residents to armed group: 'Go away'
The FBI in Portland referred calls to the Harney County Joint Information Center, which said in a statement it had no information on arrests or arrest warrants and that authorities were "still working on a peaceful resolution."
Finicum, holding a rifle and a backpack, told reporters he would stay at the entrance to the refuge overnight so authorities could find him. Ammon Bundy, a group leader, said they would take a defensive position anticipating a possible raid.
"There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them," he said. "I'm prepared to defend freedom."
Overnight Tuesday, the group used a front-end loader and grader to block the roadway leading to refuge buildings.
Wednesday morning, Ammon Bundy, the organizer, sent out a tweet that read "we have remained peaceful. If the authorities raid us unnecessarily we can't guarantee that continues. We are prepared to defend ourselves."
The group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom said it wants an inquiry into whether the government is forcing ranchers off their land.
Harney County Sheriff David Ward announced he would host a community meeting to "discuss safety concerns and the disruptions caused by the behavior of those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."
The meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 4 p.m.
Ward told The Oregonian that "there are things being done" to end the armed group's occupation.