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Refuge Occupier Arrested After Alleged Threats to Shoot Federal Officers

State criminal charges are pending in Oregon against a man accused of threatening shoot federal law enforcement if he wasn’t arrested for his role in the 41-day Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation earlier this year.

Scott A. Willingham, described by the Oregonian as an unemployed musician from Colorado, was arrested Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies in the small town of Mount Vernon, Ore., which is in Grant County. 

Willingham, 49, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and second-degree disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. He remains in jail under $35,000 bond.

A Grant County sheriff's deputy arrested Willingham at a motel after Willingham said that if he wasn't jailed Wednesday, he would "start shooting federal law enforcement officers" the next morning, Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter told the Portland newspaper.

At the time of his arrest, Willingham was in possession of a semi-automatic rifle and 230 rounds of .308-caliber ammunition, the prosecutor said.

During his arraignment, Willingham said he “wanted to be jailed in Grant County to await arrest by federal authorities for his role in the occupation,” the newspaper reported.

To date, Willingham has not been charged federally for his involvement in the refuge takeover, court records show.

In a previous interview, Willingham told the Oregonian that he arrived at the wildlife refuge a few days after the Jan. 2 takeover by armed protesters, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. The newspaper reported that Willingham was assigned to a security team during the occupation and that he was being “groomed for a leadership role in the occupation.”

Willingham voluntarily left the refuge after the Bundy brothers and other takeover leaders were arrested during a Jan. 26 traffic stop that led to the death of occupier  Robert LaVoy Finicum.  It’s unclear why Willingham was living in a motel room in Grant County.

The newspaper report said Willingham “was part of a crew that helped Finicum remove” what the occupiers described as a law enforcement surveillance camera mounted near the refuge.

The sheriff in Grant County, Ore., Glenn Palmer, currently is under investigation by the state’s Justice Department after he met with militants and even collector their autographs during the Malheur standoff, later calling them “patriots.” 

Palmer is a vocal member of the Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a states’ rights group that holds county sheriffs are the highest constitutionally recognized law enforcement officials in the land, capable of blocking federal law enforcement.

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