LAS VEGAS (AP) — The father of the jailed leader of a group that occupied an Oregon federal wildlife refuge was charged Thursday with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer, obstruction, weapon and other charges stemming from his role at the center of a tense April 2014 armed standoff with federal officials near his ranch in Nevada.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas also charges Cliven Bundy, 69, with extortion and aiding and abetting.
It reopened a festering question of how federal authorities would fulfill promises to "administratively and judicially" resolve the cancellation at gunpoint of a roundup of Bundy cattle from rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The 32-page criminal complaint accuses Bundy of leading more than 200 self-styled militia supporters into the April 2014 confrontation that had snipers with military-style weapons on a freeway overpass training their sights on federal agents who were attempting to enforce a court order to round up Bundy cattle.
"Bundy and his confederates recruited, organized and led hundreds of others in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to achieve their criminal objectives," the charging document said.
The complaint refers to at least four other people as co-conspirators, but doesn't name them. Federal authorities said no other arrests were immediately expected.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said the matter remained under investigation.
Bundy was arrested Wednesday night when he arrived at Portland International Airport from Las Vegas to visit his sons, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy. He was held at the Multnomah County Jail pending an appearance in federal court. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer to represent him.
Family members in Bunkerville, Nevada, reacted angrily to the arrest.
Speaking for Bundy's wife, Carol Bundy, daughter-in-law, Briana Bundy, wife of one of Bundy's sons, said the family patriarch wasn't committing a crime in trying to visit his sons.
Briana Bundy questioned why authorities waited almost two years to bring charges, and compared the arrests of Bundy family members and supporters in Oregon with Nazis taking opponents in Europe into custody during the Holocaust of World War II
"This time, they're rounding up the patriots instead of the Jews," Briana Bundy said.
In Oregon, Cliven Bundy's sons had been leading an armed group that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and demanded it be handed over to local control for ranching, mining, logging and other uses and that that two jailed ranchers in the area be freed.
Authorities arrested Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and other group leaders on Jan. 26 as they traveled to a community meeting north of the refuge when authorities set up a road block.
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the group's spokesman, was killed in a confrontation with the FBI and Oregon State Police on the remote road.
Bundy and others arrested in conjunction with the standoff face felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officials in their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.