TIME Crime

Oregon Militaman Arrested For Stealing Government Vehicles

BURNS, OR - JANUARY 15: Ken Medenbach prepares to paste a Harney County sticker on the side of a U.S. Government vehicle as a group continues to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on January 15, 2016 near Burns, Oregon. The armed anti-government militia group continues to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters as they protest the jailing of two ranchers for arson. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Ken Medenbach prepares to paste a Harney County sticker on the side of a U.S. Government vehicle as a group continues to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters near Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 15, 2016.

First arrest linked to occupation of federal wildlife refuge

An man in Oregon linked to the armed militia group that has occupied a federal building for the past two weeks was arrested in the town of Burns by local police Friday and charged with stealing two government vehicles.

Oregon State Police say they arrested Kenneth Medenbach, 62, after recovering two U.S. Fish and Wildlife vehicles “previously” reported stolen to the local sheriff’s office in Burns.

Medenbach, who is currently on federal probation for an earlier militia-related incident, is the first person to be arrested in connection with the armed protest and occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Oregonian.

The group took over the Malheur refuge to protest the arrest of two ranchers facing jail time for setting a fire on federal lands. Occupiers are calling for less federal control of lands in the Western United States. A meeting between protesters and the local community set to be held Friday night was cancelled after county officials denied the group usage of county-owned fairgrounds, according to local news station KTVZ.

Medencach was arrested in a grocery store parking lot, reports The Oregonian, in the driver’s seat of one of the vehicles. The other vehicle was parked next to it, but authorities assumed the person driving it had been inside the grocery store.

Both vehicles—a pickup truck and a passenger van—were still sporting federal government license plates, but were marked “Harney County Resource Center,” the new name protesters have given the wildlife refuge.

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