Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, two of the four people still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., are “not criminals,” Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said Monday.
Giddings spoke to the Andersons by phone Saturday after he offered his help to the FBI to try to settle the 31-day standoff.
The Andersons and two others are the only ones remaining at the southeastern Oregon refuge after a standoff led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy resulted in the arrests last week of several people and the shooting death of one rancher. The occupiers have been protesting federal ownership and management of public rangelands in the West.
Giddings said he knows Sandy Anderson, who works at the Chevron station in Riggins, fairly well, and Sean Anderson only slightly.
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But the Andersons, Giddings said, “have been very good citizens in Riggins. They’re not criminals — well, they are now. But they’re not some militia, this armed militia. They want the heck out of there. They never planned to be in there in the first place but now they can’t afford to leave. They have to defend themselves.”
It’s a goofy deal. I don’t like it.
Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings, on the Andersons’ predicament
The Andersons, along with David Fry and Jeff Banta, are continuing to hold out at the refuge and have been told that once they leave they will be arrested, according to news reports.
Giddings said the Andersons did not know any of the occupiers before the standoff began Jan. 2. But they sympathize with the occupiers’ cause.
Giddings said that when he spoke to the Andersons on Saturday, “I tried to convince them that their options at this point are limited to basically one, and three of them can leave at this point, but what the FBI said is that right now if you stay in there, they’re going to arrest Sean. And (Sean) said, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong. I just came over here to support these people.’ … And, bam, now they can’t get out.
Lawyers argue for Bundy’s release
Ammon Bundy, who led the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, should be released with a GPS monitoring device and orders that the Idaho resident not leave the state except to go to court, his lawyers said in documents filed Sunday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman said last week that Bundy, 40, presents a danger to the community and he might fail to return for future court proceedings. U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman is expected to consider the matter Tuesday.
Since his arrest, Bundy has repeatedly urged the four people remaining at the refuge to go home.
The Associated Press