Feds developing plan to end Melheur standoff

Members of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters stand guard Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, near Burns, Ore. The group calls itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and has sent a "demand for redress" to local, state and federal officials. The armed anti-government group took over the remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon as part of a decades-long fight over public lands in the West. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Federal law enforcement officials are developing a plan to end the standoff at Malhuer Natural Refuge, sources told KOIN 6 News.

Ammon Bundy and a group of armed militia took over the federal building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2, 2016. They have repeatedly said they intend to stay at the compound indefinitely.

The FBI, which is the lead agency dealing with the situation, is considering several steps ranging from negotiations to charging the people who have seized control of the refuge and moving to arrest them.

Sources say that officials are still developing a timeline by which to act and that a key concern is making sure the situation ends peacefully.

“No one wants this to go on forever,” one source told KOIN 6 News. “It will not be allowed to go on forever.”

The case, quite likely, will end up before a federal grand jury, which could bring a variety of charges, the sources said.

“All options are being considered,” a second source said.  “Ultimately, it is in the hands of the FBI on how to proceed.”

On Tuesday,  Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward met individually with certain reporters who regularly cover his county. He told them he’s been assured by the FBI that at some point those who seized control of the refuge will face charges.

LaVoy Finicum, 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.

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.

The group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom said it wants an inquiry into whether the government is forcing ranchers off their land.

In a release Tuesday morning, Sheriff Ward announced a community meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Harney County Fairgrounds. The purpose is to “discuss safety concerns and disruptions caused by the behavior of those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”

The meeting is open to the public.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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