Photo: AP

The indictment against the last defendant charged in the armed occupation earlier this year of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was unsealed yesterday. As of Tuesday afternoon, Jake Ryan, of Plains, Montana, was one of two defendants (out of 26) still at large—the other is Travis Cox.

Ryan is charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, possession of firearms in federal facilities, and depredation of government property. He and another man, Sean Anderson, are accused of digging two latrines at the makeshift campsite.

Ryan’s parents have said that they don’t know where their son is. “We’ve got stuff going on here that is in progress,” his father, Dan Ryan, told the Guardian. “We’re still considering what options there are.” His mother, Roxsanna Ryan added, “At this point, we’re trying to work with local people.”

In a press release Monday evening, Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel said the FBI notified him last week that an arrest warrant had been issued for Ryan for his involvement in the Malheur occupation:

Since that time I have been in contact with the Ryan family and the FBI in order to work out a peaceful resolution to this situation. At this time the Ryan Family has sought the counsel of an attorney who is working with the FBI on the charge or charges against Jake.

From the start of this, it has been my intention to make sure that Jake Ryan’s safety and rights are provided for, and I will continue to do just that. With that said, I want you to know that Federal Officers have not operated in this county without my knowledge. At this point in time, I have no evidence to suggest that Jake Ryan is in this county. At this time, I believe a peaceful resolution is being achieved and outside citizen involvement will not be needed.

Many connected to the Bundy family have been agitating for militia sympathizers to provide assistance to the Ryan family in resisting Jake’s arrest. “Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel has held off the arrest for nearly a week because his conscience is bothered, but so far he is not ready stand up fully to these thugs,” reads a message posted to the Bundy Ranch Facebook page on Satuday. “We know it is a Sheriffs authority and duty to stand up to these crimes and defend our Constitution, even to arrest those agents if needed. Our Sheriffs must stand.”

In assuring Facebook users in Sanders County (and beyond) that “I want you to know that Federal Officers have not operated in this county without my knowledge,” Rummel is alluding to a central tenet of the sovereign citizen movement—of which the Bundy family is a part—that the county sheriff is the most powerful law enforcement officer in any given county, and that federal agents must acquire his or her consent before taking action in that county.

According to the Billings Gazette, “Rummel was first elected in 2010, and campaigned on the promise of being a ‘constitutional’ sheriff, which he defined as ‘keeping an eye on what’s going on as far as individual rights, and the encroachment of citizens’ rights, are concerned.’”

In 2013, he and several other Montana sheriffs signed a letter saying that they would refuse to endorse federal gun regulations that they deemed unconstitutional, lending their weight to the explicitly anti-government Constitutional Sheriffs’ and Peace Officers’ Association’s move to resist gun control.

Speaking to the Associated Press on Tuesday, Sheriff Rummel seemed to warn those who might want to involve themselves to steer clear. “There is no standoff, and I want to keep it that way,” he said. “I don’t need anybody showing up in my county that’s only going to add tension to the situation.”

Jeanette Finicum, widow of the man shot by Oregon State Police in the final days of the occupation, wrote yesterday: “For those of you that have been keeping up with the plight of the Ryan family in Montana, they have decided to make a stand.” She continued, “After much fasting and prayer, the family has said that they have decided ‘the arrests stop here.’”

One of the other defendants named in the federal indictment, Shawna Cox, who is on house arrest, posted on Facebook that she’d spoken with the Ryan family. “If you would like to help please be on stand by,” she wrote. “Or if you arrive in Plains be prepared to camp or have friends or relatives close by to reside with until called to duty.”