Tag Archives: domestic terrorists

Former Janesville couple among 4 remaining armed holdouts at Oregon refuge

The four armed activists still occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon have shown no signs they are ready to leave more than a week after the main figures in the standoff were arrested.

Ammon Bundy led the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land policies and has repeatedly asked the holdouts to go home. The Associated Press has not been able to contact the remaining occupiers, but they have said in online statements and interviews that they want assurances they won’t be arrested.

Like most of the occupiers, none of the holdouts is from Oregon. Here are details about them:

SEAN AND SANDY ANDERSON

The husband and wife moved from the town of Janesville, Wisconsin, within the last several years to Riggins, Idaho, where Sean, 47, opened a store for hunting, tactical and survival gear. Sandy, 48, worked at a gas station.

Idaho County, where they live, and Harney County, 290 miles away where the refuge is located, are similar in many ways. Both have large portions of land managed by federal agencies and populations chafing at restrictions put on that land.

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said the Andersons are good residents, though he didn’t know as much about Sean as he did about Sandy.

“She’s a good person, she’s just upset with the government,” he told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Sean Anderson is facing misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin for resisting an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of THC, the intoxicating chemical in marijuana.

He also has pleaded guilty to a series of misdemeanors in recent years: domestic abuse in December 2010, disorderly conduct in 2008, criminal trespass in a dwelling in 2002, and disorderly conduct in 1999.

A friend of the couple, Lindsey Dipo, told the Lewiston Tribune newspaper that the couple recorded their will on Dipo’s cellphone before departing for Oregon.

JEFFREY BANTA

The 47-year-old has lived in Elko, Nevada, the last several years and worked in construction most of his life, his ex-wife said.

Banta graduated from Yerington High School in the rural town of Yerington, about 70 miles southeast of Reno, said Angela Ellington Banta, who still lives there.

His father, Willard Banta, 73, said all of his children grew up hunting and fishing at an early age.

“I had them out in the hills with me as soon as they were old enough to walk and out of diapers,” he said Wednesday.

The elder Banta said he had talked to his son “once or twice” since the standoff began but declined to provide details.

“He just said, ‘I’m all right,'” Willard Banta said. “I’m wondering if he is going to make it out. I’d like to see my son come home. I hope he does, but I have my doubts.”

Jeffrey Banta and his ex-wife have two children, the eldest a 23-year-old woman who is married and has a child living in the Reno area.

Ellington Banta said she doesn’t really know what her ex-husband has been doing in recent years and doesn’t want to discuss the standoff because she has “two kids who have been really affected by all this.”

DAVID FRY

The 27-year-old from Blanchester, Ohio, formed an online friendship with Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and helped the Arizona rancher self-publish a novel. Finicum became a recognizable spokesman for the armed group before he was shot and killed by police in a confrontation last month.

Fry traveled, apparently unarmed and against the advice of his father, to the refuge, where he often posted online updates. He told Oregon Public Broadcasting in mid-January that he planned to say goodbye to Finicum and return home before his father got back from a vacation.

Within two weeks, Finicum was dead, shot as authorities moved in to arrest Bundy and others on a remote stretch of road outside the refuge.

Fry has rejected Bundy’s call to leave, saying federal authorities might be forcing him to make the request.

“We’re still here,” he told an online talk show Monday that airs on YouTube channel Revolution Radio. “I never saw myself as a leader. … We’re waiting for some kind of miracle to happen.”

In Ohio, Fry has several convictions for disorderly conduct, as well as possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Activist group says it broke into Iowa fox farm

An animal rights activist group admitted to breaking into an eastern Iowa fox fur farm and trying to free about 30 foxes.

The group, Animal Liberation Front, said in a written release sent to news organizations that it had released 30 foxes from an Anamosa, Iowa, farm that raises foxes for fur.

But the owner of the farm said over the weekend that the group had only managed to destroy property, including stripping away much of the farm’s fencing. Most of the foxes stayed in their enclosures, Rob Roman said. Two that did leave were quickly returned.

Had the foxes escaped, it’s unlikely they would have survived in the wild, Roman said. The animals are domesticated and have been raised since birth on the farm.

“They would have been hit by a car or killed by dogs,” he told The Associated Press. “I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even know how to eat in the wild.”

But Animal Liberation Front said in its release that farm-raised foxes can survive in the wild.

“Foxes are genetically wild,” the group’s release said. “There is a large and thriving wild fox population in Iowa.”

Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver said the break-in occurred early Sept. 26. Graver says while he’s sure the activist group is responsible, officials don’t have individual suspects.

“It’s extremely difficult to find these folks,” Graver said. “It’s pretty common for them to have someone from out-of-state come in and do these things.”

FBI investigators went to the farm following the vandalism, Roman said.

The FBI website says that it considers the Animal Liberation Front a domestic terrorist organization and describes it as a loosely-organized movement engaged in crimes such as vandalism and arson to damage businesses and intimidate their opponents.

The same group claimed responsibility for a 2004 break-in at a University of Iowa lab. Activists released hundreds of animals and destroyed years of research.