Franklin Graham in Oregon as occupiers agree to turn themselves in

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham

Evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham is in Oregon to help end a standoff between the last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge and the FBI.

The occupiers said they would turn themselves in Thursday after facing authorities who came to the property more than a month into the takeover.

Graham posted on his Facebook page early Thursday morning that he was headed to Oregon to speak to the last four holdouts.

He said he's been talking to them "every day by phone for the last week at their request and at the request of the FBI."

"Last night I was on the phone with them for several hours, was able to have prayer with them, and they have said they would come out today," he posted online. "I am on my way there and hope to be there by 7:00 AM their time. Please keep them, law enforcement officials, and all involved in your prayers, that everyone will be safe."


I have been talking with the last four holdouts in the #Oregonstandoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge every day...

Posted by Franklin Graham on Thursday, February 11, 2016

At the refuge, the occupiers yelled at officers to back off and prayed with supporters over the open phone line streamed by an acquaintance of holdout David Fry.

Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator.

The FBI placed agents at barricades around the occupiers' camp, Bretzing said.

"It has never been the FBI's desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully," he said.

The development came as Cliven Bundy — who is the father of Ammon Bundy and led a Nevada standoff with federal authorities in 2014 — was arrested in Portland after encouraging supporters to flock to Oregon to support the occupiers. The FBI confirmed he was taken into custody but declined to provide a reason or other details.

Federal authorities likely decided to move in over concerns about dealing with a larger group, an expert said.

"The FBI looks at the concept of group dynamics, and they don't have the upper hand with a big and ungainly crowd," said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino. "When you've got many armed people taking positions, it's not going to end well."

For weeks, authorities had allowed the occupiers to come and go freely from the remote refuge, leading to criticism from local officials and residents that law enforcement wasn't doing enough to end the standoff.

The four had refused to leave even after Ammon Bundy and others were arrested on a road outside the refuge on Jan. 26. The traffic stop also led police to shoot and kill Arizona rancher Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who the FBI says was reaching for a gun.

Most of the occupiers fled the refuge after that. Authorities then surrounded the property and later got the holdouts added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.

The four previously said they would not leave without assurances they would not be arrested.

"We will not fire until fired upon," Sean Anderson said in the livestream. "We haven't broken any laws, came here to recognize our constitutional rights."

The occupiers said they saw snipers on a hill and a drone.

WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, contributed to this report.