A man who participated in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon was arrested yesterday under somewhat bizarre circumstances.
Texas native Scott A. Willingham apparently wanted to be arrested and, to that end, he threatened to shoot federal officers and was apprehend in Mount Vernon, Oregon.
[Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter] said that during the arraignment, Willingham said he wanted to be jailed in Grant County to await arrest by federal authorities for his role in the occupation.
A Grant County sheriff's deputy arrested Willingham at a motel after Willingham said that if he wasn't jailed Wednesday, he would "start shooting federal law enforcement officers" the next morning, Carpenter said.
Willingham had a semi-automatic rifle with 230 rounds of .308-caliber ammunition at the time of his arrest, Carpenter said.
Why would Willingham specifically request to be jailed in Grant County?
The short answer is paranoia. The long answer is more complicated.
As you may recall, several members of the Bundy militia left the wildlife refuge during the occupation and visited Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer who was sympathetic to their cause. Sheriff Palmer reportedly even asked the men to autograph his pocket copy of the Constitution.
Yesterday's report from the Oregonian does not explicitly spell out Willingham's motivation for asking to be arrested, but it certainly appears that Willingham believed federal authorities intended to kill him and that the Grant County Sheriff's office would protect him.
Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer is currently under investigation by state authorities for his cooperation with the Bundy militia. Willingham has been charged by local authorities with unlawful use of a weapon and disorderly conduct. Federal charges have not yet been filed against Willingham but, in that event, the number of individuals connected to the Bundy family facing federal charges will increase to 35.
In related news, Ryan Bundy has decided to represent himself at trial. That should be a hoot.