KANAB, Utah — Inside a packed Mormon church in this desert town Friday, a leader of the Oregon armed standoff who died in a confrontation with authorities was called a man of conviction and not a threat to the law enforcement officers who shot him.

“My dad was murdered defending the liberties so that we may be free of bondage,” said Brittney Beck, a daughter of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who died Jan. 26 during a confrontation with FBI agents and Oregon state troopers.

Finicum’s death on a remote Oregon road has become a symbol for those decrying federal oversight, on public lands in the West and elsewhere, and has led to protests of what they call an unnecessary use of force. But authorities say the 54-year-old was reaching for a gun during the confrontation.

At the funeral, Finicum’s family drew on their faith and quoted scripture in describing their father as a man of conviction and courage.

One daughter, Thara Thenney, said her father was “defiled, mocked and eventually slain.”

“He had never, not once, abandoned his trust in the Lord,” she said.

The funeral was held inside a Mormon church, but national leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month denounced the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and said they were “deeply troubled” by reports the occupiers were using scriptural principles to justify it.

Ammon Bundy – a Mormon and the main leader of the refuge occupation – has said he was following divine orders when he and his followers seized the refuge Jan. 2. Bundy demanded the government change federal land policies and free two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.

Bundy is among 12 people in custody for their involvement in the ongoing occupation outside Burns, Oregon. Bundy and four others were arrested during the Jan. 26 confrontation that left Finicum dead. Federal prosecutors say Bundy’s group brandished firearms to keep officials from carrying out their duties, threatened violence and intimidated locals.

Four occupiers remain holed up at the refuge, refusing to leave without assurances they won’t be arrested – an unlikely prospect since they are among 16 people named in a federal grand jury indictment.


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