The FBI has launched a formal criminal investigation into the events surrounding last months standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
Agents have been interviewing BLM agents and law-enforcement officers who had been onsite, focusing on charges Bundy supporters and militia members who joined them pointed weapons at the authorities and made threats on their lives, reports KLAS-TV, Las Vegas.
FBI agents have interviewed Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillispie, Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo and a squad of Metro police officers who served as a buffer between Bundy’s supporters and the BLM forces. A second squad is to be interviewed this week.
“The federal authorities are conducting an investigation and I am pretty confident it is going to go into the future,” said Lombardo, who was interviewed by the FBI earlier this week.
Asked if there would be consequences for somebody recorded on video tape or a news camera pointing a gun at a Metro officer or a federal ranger, Lombardo said yes.
“There is definitely going to be consequences, definitely. That is unacceptable behavior. If we let it go, it would continue into the future,” he said.
Sheriff Gillispie confirmed he was asked what he observed, but declined to give details.
KLAS reported earlier that Metro members claimed they had feared for their lives because of so many armed supporters standing with the Bundys, who had “pointed weapons at officers, taunted them, told them they should be ready to die.”
“When we first got out there and made a left to divide I-15, that is all you saw. You saw kids and women and horses in the backdrop and then men with guns, laying on the ground, in the back of pickup trucks. We’re going, ‘Wow, this would never happen in Las Vegas,’ But it was there. That is not a rumor. It is reality and I saw it with my own eyes,” said Metro Police Sgt. Tom Jenkins, who has been interviewed by the FBI.
Bundy supporters have insisted in emails and calls to KLAS that no one in the crowd pointed weapons at BLM or Metro officers and that BLM rangers were the ones pointing guns at them.
WND reported last week that Bundy’s supporters have filed a long list of complaints with police about the behavior of federal BLM agents – essentially accusing the government of thuggery.
Government agents blocked roads, loosed attack dogs, threatened people and pointed weapons and even harassed photographers, Bundy supporters alleged, according to an AP report about the complaints.
But Bundy told WND that he wasn’t there to tell police – or supporters – what they need to be doing, he was just trying to assess damage to his ranch and cattle herd from the partial roundup, and move forward.
Bundy said he and his wife didn’t file the complaints with the Las Vegas police, but he knew some of those supporting him did visit with officers to raise about 40 complaints over BLM activities.
Associated Press reported the complaints against the federal officers, which were being investigated, were filed by three of Bundy’s sons and about a dozen other people.
He said he hasn’t heard yet from the federal government about any of the disputed issues.
Actually, he told WND, he has gotten a couple of certified letters, but hasn’t opened them, saying he’s going to “give them to my attorney.”
At the time, Metro Police Sgt. Tom Jenkins had already made statements to the press indicating he had feared a situation could have developed “that would have left a lot of dead officers,” but Bundy’s assessment seemed to minimize the risk faced by the police.
Bundy told WND, “They kept themselves pretty safe.”
He said the only time he really noticed them was when they formed a barrier so BLM rangers could depart.
Bundy said it would be really nice if those certified letters were apologies for the damage to his operation.