One of the armed protesters occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon said he would rather die defending the building than be arrested by the FBI.
The occupation at the remote headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 250 miles from Portland, entered its fifth day Wednesday.
While law enforcement has not attempted to recapture the outpost, the FBI is leading efforts to resolve the impasse and several of the occupiers said they believe there are arrest warrants against them.
Asked if he would rather be killed than be arrested — were the occupation to turn violent — 54-year-old occupier LaVoy Finicum, said: "Absolutely ... I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box."
"There are things more important than your life and freedom is one of them," he said. "I'm prepared to defend freedom."
Finicum, a Mormon rancher from Arizona who has 11 children, broke off from the rest of the group inside the building Tuesday night. He sat on a chair outside the refuge with only a sleeping bag, a blue tarp and his gun protecting him in the frigid open air.
Finicum said he wanted officers to be able to find him if they wanted to serve an arrest warrant.
"I do not want the FBI federal agents to have to go running around in the dark, kicking in doors looking for me, OK?" he said. "I want them to know exactly where I'm at."
This also came with a warning: "I'm telling them right now — don't point guns at me," he said.
The FBI and local police said Tuesday night they had no information to release about arrest warrants.
Finicum hinted earlier Tuesday he was keen for an end to the situation. "I need to get home," he said. "I got cows that are scattered and lost."
The group occupied the refuge Saturday and vowed to stay there until federally owned land is returned "back to the people."
They also demanded the exoneration of two ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven, 46, who were convicted of setting fires on government land and turned themselves into custody Monday.
However, the Hammonds and the Oregon Cattlemen's Association have disavowed the occupation, the latter calling it an "illegal activity taken against the government."