North Texas

Daughter: Rancher Killed in Oregon Refuge Standoff Was ‘Martyr,' Vows His Fight Will Continue

After a member of an armed anti-government group was killed in a traffic stop in Oregon Tuesday, his daughter, who lives in North Texas, said she is devastated.

"He loved freedom obviously more than his life," said Challice Finch, a daughter of Lavoy Finicum who lives in Saginaw.

Finicum, a 55-year-old rancher from Cain Beds, Arizona, died Tuesday after law enforcement officers initiated the stop near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

He was a leader of the armed group that took over the southeast Oregon refuge Jan. 2 to oppose federal land restrictions and object to the prison sentences of two local ranchers convicted of setting fires.

Finch said she believes the standoff with armed activists still occupying the wildlife preserve will go on.

"He's a great man, and just because he's dead doesn't mean his fight won't go on," Finch said of her father. "He's now a martyr."

Finicum was a prominent presence at the refuge and frequently talked with reporters. His affable but passionate demeanor made him a popular subject for on-camera interviews.

He and other occupiers were heading to a community meeting in the town of John Day, about 70 miles north of Burns.

It's unclear what happened in the moments before his death. Authorities said shots were fired but have declined to say how many, or if Finicum or any of the other activists exchanged gunfire with officers.

"One man died as we attempted to take him into custody. Because of the ongoing investigation, I can't comment on the details," FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing said.

On Wednesday, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said the traffic stop initiated on a stretch of road away from populated areas was a tactical decision that officials hoped would bring a peaceful end to the standoff.

Eight occupiers were arrested, including group leader Ammon Bundy.

Finch on Wednesday recalled her last exchange with her father.

"Yesterday morning before he died he sent me a text just to check up on me, make sure I was doing good, to remember to pray," Finch said.

Finicum leaves behind 12 children, 19 grandchildren and his wife of 23 years.

"I just want everyone to know I love him and that we all love him and miss him," Finch said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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