A Plains man accused of disturbing a sacred burial site by digging latrines for protesters during the monthlong standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge has been charged with federal offenses, but so far has refused to turn himself in to authorities.
In social media posts, the family of Jake Ryan stated that the 25-year-old man is innocent and that “the arrests stop here.” Ryan is the 26th person charged publicly following the armed standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year and is one of two defendants in the case that have not been arrested.
According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, Ryan faces charges of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States, possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in a federal facility and depredation of government property. An unsealed indictment specifically alleges that on or about Jan. 27, Ryan and Sean Anderson used heavy equipment to damage an archaeological site considered sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe, resulting in more than $1,000 worth of damage. Media reports suggest that Ryan and Anderson had been digging latrines near a makeshift camping area.
Ryan’s name had been sealed until this week but prosecutors wrote that his name no longer needed to be concealed because his family knew of the charges.
According to Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel, an arrest warrant for Ryan was issued last week.
In a Facebook post, Jeanette Finicum, the widow of Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum who was shot and killed by federal agents during the Oregon standoff, said that Ryan had decided not to turn himself in and that he had the support of his family in the decision.
In a statement, the family said they have received an outpouring of support from like-minded individuals. The statement was shared on the Facebook page for the Bundy Ranch, a Nevada ranch that was at the center of a 2014 standoff between Cliven Bundy and federal agents over grazing rights. Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, spearheaded the Oregon standoff.
“We give our sincere appreciation for all the wonderful responses to this dilemma at hand. We ask at this time that you stand by as far as a physical presence, but continue to be the moral support that we need at this time,” the family wrote. “We will let you know as things develop. Thank you so much, sincerely, the Ryan Clan. Please put this out and yes, we talked to the sheriff and his intentions are still to have Jake turn himself in.”
Supporters of the now-defunct occupation have been encouraging Sheriff Rummel to ignore the federal arrest warrant. In a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, Rummel said he hoped for a peaceful resolution.
“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,” Rummel said. “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.”
Rummel said there was no evidence that Ryan was in the Plains area and that as far as he knew the FBI has not conducted any operations in Sanders County.
He asked supporters of Ryan to please stop calling and emailing his office because he “cannot keep up” with the influx of messages. As of March 21, Rummel said he had received over 400 emails and 100 phone messages.