The Bundy militants and their supporters are trying to turn LaVoy Finicum into a right-wing martyr, but two witnesses deny that he was shot and killed in cold blood by law enforcement officers.
Finicum was part of a convoy headed Tuesday evening from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to the John Day Senior Center, where the armed militants apparently intended to set up a Committee of Safety as a form of shadow government ahead of a possible armed takeover of federal land in Grant County, Oregon.
State Rep. Michele Fiore (R) and the “Bundy Ranch” Facebook page shared similar accounts of Finicum’s fatal shooting, each claiming the rancher had been shot with his hands up while his friends were arrested.
But that’s not exactly what happened, according to two accounts posted in Facebook videos.
Melvin Lee cited one of militant leader Ammon Bundy’s bodyguards, Mark McConnell in his video, saying that McConnell and Bundy were in a vehicle traveling north up US 395 with a second bodyguard, Brian “Booda” Cavalier, when they were stopped by law enforcement officers serving an arrest warrant.
A second vehicle — which contained Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, Finicum and Victoria Sharp — went around their stopped comrades’ vehicle but ran into a blockade about a mile away.
“There happened to be some arguments between the guys in the truck,” Lee said. “Somehow they got Ryan Payne pulled out of the truck, apparently. LaVoy had took off — he ended up hitting a snowbank, I guess, trying to get around the blockade. After he hit that snowbank, he came out of that truck and he charged at the law enforcement (officers) — as I understand it.”
McConnell — who was taken into custody, questioned and released — recorded a second video early Wednesday morning, saying that Payne told him that he and Finicum got into an argument in the pickup after the rancher fled the police stop.