After well-armed militants took over a building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, the group's leadership told the Oregonian, "We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely."
As things stand, the standoff will wrap up much sooner. It's not over, but as of this morning, we appear to be witnessing the beginning of the end.
Late Tuesday, Ammon and Ryan Bundy were arrested, and as part of the confrontation, a shootout left one of their allies, Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, dead. Three other militants were arrested at the scene, and two more were taken into custody in related incidents.
NBC News reported earlier this morning that more members of the group continue are finding themselves in handcuffs.
The FBI arrested three more people who occupied the Oregon federal wildlife refuge. One of the trio arrested Wednesday was 43-year-old Jason S. Patrick, who The Oregonian newspaper reported had assumed the role of leader for the remaining protesters after the original ringleaders were detained on a highway the previous day.... About four hours earlier, Duane Leo Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, Oregon, and Dylan Wade Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah, also were arrested after leaving the compound, the FBI said.
Those three were part of an eight-person group who decided to leave the refuge yesterday. The other five were released without charges.
By all accounts, there was no violence during any of these arrests.
Ammon Bundy issued a statement through his attorney late yesterday, urging his remaining partners to end the standoff. "Please stand down," he said. "Go home and hug your families." He added that the fight would move forward "in the courts."
The obvious question now is just how many militia members remain. The exact number of people inside the building has long been unclear, so it's difficult to say with confidence how many more will have to leave before the standoff officially ends.
The FBI said it was working "around the clock to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible."