Neil Sigurd Wampler, one of the militants who joined the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge early on, insisted that he is allowed to carry a firearm -- even though he was convicted of murdering his father.
An investigation by The Oregonian revealed this week that Wampler, 68, had been convicted of second-degree murder in 1977, when he was 29.
According to police reports, Wampler hit his father in the head with a 16-inch rod, and then hitchhiked to a liquor store, where he called police to confess. He later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in 1981.
Although Wampler denied to the paper that he was the murderer, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tony Cipolla confirmed that the militant in question was Wampler after watching a YouTube video recorded at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Cipolla noted that Wampler's murder conviction prohibits him from having a firearm. Wampler, however, insisted that he could legally carry a gun.
"Oh yes," Wampler said after being asked if he was armed. He declined to say exactly what type of weapon he was carrying.
"I am here to support my compadres in this effort against federal overreach," Wampler explains in a YouTube video published earlier this month.
The militant argues that the occupiers have "pretty much exhausted" all the legal means of stopping the federal government.
"As the old saying goes, you have the ballot box, you have the jury box, you have the soapbox," he opines. "And box number four is guess what? The peaceful means we are proceeding here, I would like to point out though."
"I've had some experience both at Bundy ranch and Sugar Pine mine and other armed actions in the last couple years," Wampler says. "We are peaceful people, I certainly am. And the only circumstance, the last extremity that I think that any gunshots would be fired is if the federals tried to root us out of here."
"They would find out then that we are not playing. We're not going to give an inch. And I say that very seriously."
Two leaders of the occupation, Ammon Bundy and Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, have both denied knowing Wampler or being aware of his criminal past.