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Harney County Sheriff On Standoff: 'This Cannot Happen In America'

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AP Photo / Rick Bowmer

"This cannot happen anymore. This cannot happen in America, and this cannot happen in Harney County," sheriff David Ward said during a nationally televised press conference Wednesday.

A visibly emotional Ward expressed disappointment with the loss of life that occurred Tuesday night. Ward told reporters that the FBI and law enforcement agents had planned a tactical interception of militiamen leaders with special care to minimize loss of life.

"It didn't have to happen," Ward said. "We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad."

Law enforcement agents did not answer any questions about the incident nor did they disclose the name of the man who died, which has been reported as LaVoy Finicum. They did confirm that there are eight individuals in custody, seven in Oregon and one in Arizona. All individuals were arrested on "felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats."

Ward alluded that the militiamen had taken a far greater toll on the small Oregon community than simply overtaking a 187,000-acre wildlife refuge. Ward said that the militiamen met with him back in November and made a list of demands that he could not accommodate.

"This has been tearing our community apart," Ward said.

Greg Bretzing, the FBI special agent in handling the refuge standoff in Oregon, also warned militiamen to go home.

"I will say that the armed occupiers have been given ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully," Bretzing said. "Instead this individuals have chosen to threaten and intimidate the America they profess to love."

Refuge occupants are free to leave if they give their names as they exit, Bretzing said.