One of the militia members occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge told MSNBC on Jan. 5 that he'd be willing to die rather than go to jail. He was killed by authorities during a traffic stop exactly three weeks later, the Washington Post reports. "I have been raised in the country all my life," Robert "LaVoy" Finicum told MSNBC. "I love dearly to feel the wind on my face, to see the sun rise, to see the moon in the night. I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box." Finicum was shot and killed Tuesday as authorities arrested five other militia members on their way to a meeting, the Post reports. He was a 54-year-old rancher from Arizona who had been serving as the occupiers' spokesperson since they took over a building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2.
The Oregonian reports it's still unclear exactly what happened during the confrontation with police Tuesday evening. Sources say Finicum was refusing to follow orders from state troopers when he was shot. But supporter and Nevada politician Michele Fiore says Finicum was not resisting arrest. "He was just murdered with his hands up," she tweeted. "He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved," one of Finicum's 11 children tells the Oregonian. During his regular radio broadcast Monday, Finicum ominously announced that "the federal government is beating the war drums," according to the Post. He's now being treated as a martyr. “There are things more important than your life—and freedom is one of them,” he told MSNBC on Jan. 5. “I’m prepared to defend freedom."