Thursday, January 28, 2016

Here's the Spot Along U.S. 395 Where LaVoy Finicum Ambushed, Gunned Down by FBI (PHOTOS)

From Luke Hammil, at the Portland Oregonian, "The spot where Finicum died, Bundy arrested: twisting road, dense forest":

BURNS — The spot where police shot Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and arrested Ammon Bundy differs markedly from the open rangeland that the militants occupied for nearly a month. The showdown played out in a dense forest along a twisting, shadowy and narrow road.

A day later, the scene still showed evidence of the shooting: broken glass littered the pavement and tire tracks on a snowbank indicated that one driver – perhaps Finicum, as a witness claimed – tried to escape by swerving onto the wrong side of the road.

Orange paint on the ground appeared to show where investigators later noted that vehicles didn't passively pull over to the snowy shoulder.

The place, with an elevation rising about 1,000 feet higher than Burns, is like the set of "an old western movie" – the kind where lawmen would lie in wait for their target, said area businessman Tim Smith, who knows the location well.

In contrast, Bundy and his followers could see for miles around the refuge they took over Jan. 2.

On their many 30-mile drives between Burns and the federal bird sanctuary, they traveled along straight roads and – save for one butte mid-commute – through flat terrain covered in snow and scrub brush.

That changed soon after Bundy, Finicum and six others turned onto U.S. 395 Tuesday afternoon and headed north for Grant County, where they were scheduled to present their views on the federal government and the Constitution to people in John Day.

The road entered Devine Canyon and quickly began to wind and climb into the forest. The FBI and state police pulled up about 4:30 p.m. behind the protesters, who were traveling in a pickup and a Jeep, and stopped them, according to Mark McConnell, who said on Facebook that he was driving the Jeep. More law enforcement officials waited ahead, he said.

Not long after that, Finicum was dead and five militants arrested amid gunfire....

Clint Van Zandt, a former supervisory special agent for the FBI who spent 25 years at the agency, said it "makes all the tactical sense in the world" for police to stop the Bundy convoy where they did. The objective, he said, would be to confront the leaders when they had separated from the rest of their supporters.

"It can be the downside when you can see for miles and miles because you don't want the individuals to see what's happening," Van Zandt said. "You don't want them to see anything. You don't want them to hear anything."

Smith said he's also not surprised that authorities picked the secluded spot. He's not happy that the FBI and state police chose it for what he called "an ambush."

Smith worked with the occupation leaders as a member of the Harney County Committee of Safety, a group formed at Bundy's urging before the refuge takeover. The committee members distanced themselves from Bundy after the siege but nonetheless took up his cause against federal land management.

"This is pretty upsetting for everyone, and it really does affect what I believe are our objectives," Smith said...