FBI agents on Thursday arrested without incident 14 antigovernment activists, including two more sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, for their roles in the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., with federal agents.
As of now, the 69-year-old Nevada rancher and four of his sons, Ammon, 40, Ryan, 43, Melvin, 41; and David, 39, and 14 other men are now accused of involvement in the “massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers” that occurred near the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in April 2014.
The new Nevada indictment names 19 defendants, seven of whom were previously indicted and arrested in Oregon for their roles in the 41-day illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that ended last month with 25 arrests. Those now under indictment in Oregon and Nevada are Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with Brian Cavalier, Blaine Cooper, Ryan Payne, Peter T. Santilli Jr. and Joseph O’Shaughnessy.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who was in Oregon on Thursday, issued a statement saying the new arrests in the Nevada case should “make clear that we will not tolerate the use of threats or force against federal agents who are doing their jobs.”
Lynch described the subsequent Oregon refuge occupation as “illegal and criminal,” and she praised federal, state and county law enforcement for bringing it to a “peaceful resolution,” the Oregonian reported.
“We will continue to protect public land on behalf of the American people, uphold federal law, and ensure that those who employ violence to express their grievances with the government will be apprehended and held accountable for their crimes,” the nation’s law enforcement chief said.
FBI Director James B. Comey also weighed in on the Nevada case that pits a controversial, outlaw cattle rancher and his militia and constitutional extremist friends against agents of the U.S. Government.
“Our democracy provides lawful ways individuals can respond if they disagree with their government, but if you resort to violence or threats, you will be held accountable under the law,” Comey said in a statement.
The superseding federal indictment returned Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nev., renames as defendants Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, along with Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont., and Peter T. Santilli Jr., 50, of Cincinnati, all five of whom were initially indicted on Feb. 17. A superseding indictment is used by federal prosecutors to update or modify charges or add defendants in an evolving criminal case.
Newly named in the Nevada indictment were Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz.; and Brian D. Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nev., and Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Ariz. Those three were previously arrested on separate federal charges filed in Oregon for their roles in the 41-day Malheur occupation that ended Feb. 11, a day after Cliven Bundy was arrested en route to the refuge.
Those now charged in the Nevada case include Gerald A. “Jerry” DeLemus, a Rochester, N.H., resident who traveled to Oregon during the refuge standoff, but is only charged with his earlier involvement at Bunkerville. He was arrested by the FBI on Thursday.
DeLemus served as the commander of the “Camp Liberty” militia camp during the armed Nevada standoff and, at one point, posed with what is described in court documents as a 50-caliber machine gun. The 61-year-old former Marine spent 40 hours straight driving cross-county from New Hampshire to Nevada in response to Cliven Bundy’s plea to militia groups to assist him in his declared war against the Bureau of Land Management.
A self-employed carpenter and Tea Party activist, DeLemus has publicly bragged about his involvement in the armed Nevada standoff with federal agents, court documents say. Since last summer, he has been the co-chair of the “Veterans for Trump” presidential campaign in New Hampshire.
Also arrested Thursday was Eric J. “EJ” Parker, 32, one of four Idaho men now indicted for their involvements in the Bunkerville standoff. Parker, who lives in Hailey, Idaho, and is vice president of the Idaho 3% militia, showed up in Burns, Ore., in January to participate in an anti-government demonstration that was a warm-up act before the refuge occupation began.
Parker, who isn’t charged in the Oregon takeover, didn’t join Ammon, Ryan and Mel Bundy and others when, after the Burns demonstration, the Bundy brothers and their militia associates from various states began the 41-day illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
At Bunkerville in 2014, Parker was photographed on a highway overpass, pointing a sniper rifle at BLM agents below. That photo became a picture postcard on social media sites where militia and antigovernment types boasted about “the showdown with the feds that we won.”
The other defendants from Idaho are: O. Scott Drexler, 44, of Challis; Steven A. Stewart, 36, of Hailey, and Todd C. Engel, 48, a Boundary County resident who has been involved with the Oath Keepers. The remaining defendants in the Nevada case are: Richard R. Lovelien, 52, of Westville, Okla.; Gregory P. Burleson, 52, of Phoenix; and Micah L. McGuire, 31, and Jason D. Woods, 30, both of Chandler, Ariz.
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer. They also are charged with at least one count of using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence; assault on a federal officer; threatening a federal law enforcement officer; obstruction of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
Ultimately, the 19 defendants are expected to stand trial together in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, unless defense attorneys are successful in asking for separate trials or a change in venue.