GMN Exclusive – Guerrilla Media Network LLC – 2016
The driver’s name was Mark McConnell, and he wasted no time to go on the defensive when news spread on social media, that according to the testimony of Oregon State Trooper Jeremiah Beckert, he was the informant who gave OSP/FBI the logistics and support they needed to execute the ambush that lead to the death of LaVoy Finicum and arrest of Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Brian Cavalier. Those closest to McConnell say Mark denies having worked with law enforcement to make possible the ambush that would lead to one man’s death, and the incarceration of occupation leadership. McConnell’s official stance was, he did not do it and Oregon State Trooper Beckert lied on the stand. While McConnell, refused to speak with me for the purpose of writing this article, he has spoken to many about what he says was a radical idea being formed at the refuge, and readily admits he did inform Law Enforcement and the FBI of plans to kidnap Sheriff David Ward’s children, and use explosives found on the refuge to blow-up the Harney County Courthouse.
Two days after the death of LaVoy Finicum I spoke with McConnell in room 123, at the now infamous Silver Spur Motel in Burns,Oregon – I asked him point blank about how it could be everyone in the convoy was arrested except him? His reply was simply, “I’m not really sure, but when they questioned me it was pretty clear they didn’t even know who I was,” he said .. Maybe it was because I wasn’t like all the other retards up there who couldn’t stay off social media.” I stayed under the radar – I had a room in town – I fed myself, and I didn’t start a fundraiser”
I then asked him to please explain to me how it all went down that night.
He said that he and Booda “aka” Brian Cavalier, were sporadically chatting about much of nothing when they passed vehicles that immediately pulled out and began to follow them. There was some contention between him and Cavalier he says, because a woman Cavalier thought of as his girlfriend was giving him [Mark McConnell] a lot of attention, and “Booda wasn’t very happy about that” he said, “So we really didn’t have much to say to each other.” I wasn’t really paying much attention to what was going on around us, and then suddenly Cavalier says “Oh shit” and sits straight up, and thats when I saw them sitting there on the side of the road. McConnell then told me, when they pulled him over he was the first to exit the jeep and that he told them he was armed. “They told me to keep my hands up, turn around and walk backwards to them slowly, and I did what they told me to.
“It was crazy you know because – I thought, this is it – I’m going to jail. Then they put me on my knees and I spent the next two hours on the cold ground. They questioned me he said, and then after they talked to me for a while they just let me go. I mean, I guess they figured I was a nobody who just got caught up in the whole thing and that was probably because I was smart and stayed away from the cameras, and so they told me that they couldn’t arrest me because they didn’t have an indictment for me — To be honest I can’t really tell you why I wasn’t arrested.”
At one point in our conversation I used the word “ambush” to describe the event that took place on Hwy 395, and that’s when McConnell lost his composure with me. He became very angry with me for using the word ambush –
“It wasn’t a fucking ambush he scolded, it was a legal fucking stop and people need to stop calling it that!” And you wanna know something else? If LaVoy had rushed me like he did those guys, I probably would have shot him too”
That was the last time I spoke with Mark McConnell.
Ken Rhoades, aka [Orange Hat Man], stood silently in the room with me and listened to Mark’s version of the event. When Mark left, Ken turned to me immediately and said, ” That Motherfucker is working with the Feds, I’ll bet my life on it.” I told Ken then, and have said it many times after, ” I don’t know about working with them, but he sure is hiding something.”
In March of 2016 I contacted Mark McConnell’s friend Melvin Lee, not because I wanted information about McConnell, but because he had put out a very passionate video claiming that some of the women whose husbands had been incarcerated, were being overlooked in fundraising efforts online. He challenged us all to pick up the slack and help these women out. I called him to get the information he had on the families most in need. Mr. Lee was angry. He said that he had gone to the Refuge to try to talk Ammon Bundy into leaving the Refuge and that Ammon would not listen; My conversation with Melvin Lee soon turned to Mark McConnell.
Melvin Lee was the first person to tell me that Mark had gone to the refuge a second time, “against his advise”, and said he did it because he felt that Ryan Payne was becoming dangerous and had added a radical element to the occupation. He told me that Payne suffered from a severe form of PTSD and his influence over some of the men up there worried both him and Mark McConnell.
Mark told Melvin Lee that he had supposedly overheard Jason Blomgren, AKA (Joker J) talking about plans to kidnap Sheriff David Ward’s Children, and blow-up the Harney County Courthouse. He also told me that Mark went up there to specifically keep a watchful eye on Payne and “take him out” if he made one step toward carrying out that plan.
Ryan Payne says now in hind-sight, that he should have listened to Jason Patrick, a long time friend and co-occupier at the Malheur Refuge. “Jason just didn’t like the guy from the moment he stepped foot on the refuge,” says Payne.
Payne cannot remember who actually introduced him to, or told him about Mark McConnell, but he knows they became acquainted during the incarceration of Andrew Tahmorressi, a United States Marine who had been jailed by Mexican Authorities for accidentally carrying weapons over the border. He says that looking back on it he was impressed with and liked McConnell, who told him he was a United States Marine who had transitioned to the Army and that they had many things in common.
“When the Occupation began we struggled to find people who were willing to come to Oregon to help with the protest and so we all just started calling the contacts in our phones, McConnell was one of those contacts in mine”, he said.
Ryan says, because of Marks military training, work on the border, and willingness to be there at the Refuge, he was quickly assigned to personal security for Ammon Bundy. When I told Ryan about the excuse McConnell was using to justify his becoming an informant Payne said, “It’s just simply not true”
Like everything else concerning McConnell, this whole story about kidnapping plans and blowing up buildings, just doesn’t make any sense. If what Mark is saying were the truth then my arrest would have been about something much different. It would have been about that, and not a conspiracy to impede BLM and Fish and Wildlife from doing their duty. Mark didn’t come up there to stop some radical plan — He came there to do just what he said, and that was to watch me, and report back to the FBI like he has been doing for the past two years.
Ryan Payne says that he was running late on the afternoon of January 26th 2016. He had been out on the refuge with Victoria Sharpe showing her around; She had only been there a couple of days. When they made their way back to the refuge McConnell was agitated and in a panic; I had never seen him act like this before, he said. He was yelling at everyone about getting on the road and was very upset because he thought they were going to be late. We had a routine we followed before we left the Refuge for these meetings and McConnell was just screwing everything up. He insisted that we all go together and that Ammon ride in the lead car with him. The truth is Ammon had not planned to go with us to the meeting. He wanted to leave later because he was always the last speaker and he had some things he wanted to take care of at the Refuge and said he would meet us there later. McConnell was having a fit. He was persistent that Ammon just had to go now, and ride with him. At the last minute I think Victoria decided to go and Mark was very unhappy about that. It was all just so hectic and confusing and we skipped over our routine. The last thing we always did before we left the refuge was pray, and this time because Mark was acting so out of control, and pushing everyone so hard, we didn’t do it. I think the worse mistake we made was not saying that prayer – maybe if we had just forced McConnell to slow down and said that prayer, God would have told us not to go.
Payne says that in the discovery he and his attorney learned, that at least two informants had received a sizable amount of money for their part at Malheur. One check was cut for $25,000.00 and the other was for $10,000.00. He doesn’t know if McConnell got them both or if there was another informant, but was confident Mark got at least one of those checks and quite possibly both.
So is that why he made up this outlandish lie? — The bigger the lie the bigger the check?
“There was never a plan to kidnap Ward’s kids and there was never a plan to blow up buildings. Where is the proof? Did it ever come out in court? I was never questioned about it and neither was anyone else to my knowledge except “maybe” Jason (Blomgren) who stated when asked, that there may have been a discussion of last resort plans to plant IED’s to slow down the FBI if they came after us. And to my knowledge I don’t ever remember even having had that conversation with Jason, nor do I think he ever said I did.
No, Mark McConnell was sent there to gather intel and cause division, and that’s exactly what he did and exactly what he’s still doing. We all knew the minute he was let go that he had set us all up. He was working with them to figure out a way to get us all together so they could end the occupation. And that is exactly what he accomplished, and a good man died because of Mark McConnell.
Ryan had a message for Mark at the end of our talk;
I want him to know I feel sorry for him. When all is said and done Mark, you will always be the one who did a terrible thing and will have to live with the death of LaVoy Finicum. I will never have to prove that I am telling the truth because you are the one telling the lie. God has a perfect plan – read Isaiah 44-45. I want you to know that despite what you did I am not angry – I want you to know I don’t hate you – I want you to know I forgive you.
Jon Ritzheimer, another co-occupier and close friend to Payne says, “There is no way Ryan Payne ever had plans to do what McConnell is saying he had plans to do.” Jon makes it clear that he bunked with Payne on the refuge, and would have known if Payne was planning such a thing. Ritzheimer also disclosed to me, that it was Mark McConnell and Melvin Lee who told Ammon Bundy they had intel that a raid was going to happen any minute and that they all needed to pack up and leave the refuge or die. “They both said the intel was solid, and we believed them.”
Jon now believes that McConnell purposefully caused panic that night so people would become frightened and leave, and that very likely the first plan to take them down was thwarted when they dug in their heels and refused to budge. Some have pointed out that McConnell could have very well told them of the false plans to raid the compound just to get an idea of their strategy so he could report back to the FBI. Regardless, Ritzheimer says that he believes Mark was working with the FEDS from the beginning. “He and Melvin Lee went there to cause chaos, and that’s exactly what happened.” Ritzheimer said.
“I’ll never forget that night. We were begging for help — we were begging the media to stay and help protect us, but they all left us there. LaVoy came up and sat there all night in the cold waiting to die in that parking lot. I tried to come up with an idea to make the media stay with their camera’s, and the only thing I could think of was to get dressed in my fatigues and carry a gun, but that only worked for about an hour, and then they left. The only one willing to stay and keep his camera going was Pete Santilli. He sat in his truck between LaVoy and the road and waited for the FBI to come and hoped his camera would stop them from killing everyone.”
I have also heard that McConnell and Melvin Lee say they came to the Refuge to rescue a girl named Kristen and her baby, but that is also a big lie. Until they got to the refuge they didn’t even know Kristen was there. I know this because, I am the one who told them about her and asked them to take her back to Arizona with them when they left.
They were also the ones behind Lewis Arthur’s big show when he came up there thinking he was going to get by with beating up a sick Vietnam Vet, pushing his way past the gate screaming and yelling that he had come to rescue one of his “men” he had heard was in trouble. It was all a lie made up by Mark McConnell. Lewis Arthur founded the movement called Veterans on Patrol in Arizona, and reports are he was asked to leave Bundy Ranch for bad behavior.
Jon Like Ryan, points out that kidnapping and bombs were never mentioned by Prosecutors, and if McConnell gave them evidence that proved that that was the ‘BIG PLAN” then they would have definitely used it.
Jon believes that Ammon Bundy should now subpoena McConnell and force the truth out of him on the stand. If what he is saying is true and the OSP and FBI are telling lies about him being the informant, then Mark should be more that willing to take the stand. Though catching up with Mark McConnell might be difficult these days. In addition to his supposed job as a “Trucker,” Mark has also admitted to being a Bounty Hunter.
Jason Blomgren’s close friend Angelia Balch, former National President for the III % Organization, stands by her friend and says that everything that comes out of Mark McConnell’s mouth about Jason is a lie; Jon Ritzheimer agrees:
We had our times with Jason, and there did come a time when I had to tell him to take down a video or two, but it wasn’t because they were violent or anything like that — We just thought they were silly and didn’t represent the message we wanted to convey. I do not believe Jason ever told McConnell that Ryan Payne planned to kidnap kids and blow-up buildings, and I don’t believe Jason ever informed on us. Mark McConnell is a liar and that’s all there is to it.
Jason Blomgren was subpoenaed by the Government to testify against his co-occupiers in the trial of Ammon Bundy et al — But, said his friend Angelia Balch, Jason was a hostile witness who never cooperated with the FBI.
At the last moment the Government decided to dismiss Mr. Blomgren as a witness, and did not call him to the stand.
Jason Blomgren had no comment.
Melvin Lee now say’s that he doesn’t know what to believe about his friend Mark. “I hate to think he would lie to me, he said – but I will stand by him and defend him from anyone who tries to come after him.” To tell you the truth, I’m just as confused as everyone else, he said. Melvin walked away from a organization he founded known as The Patriot Warriors nearly three months ago, and says he has also walked away from the Patriot Community for good. Melvin Lee now says that he never personally saw any e-mails or text messages that showed any proof Jason Blomgren had ever told Mark McConnell he was part of a plan to blow up buildings or kidnap Ward’s children. He now says all he ever saw was a couple of videos Jason did on YouTube.
There are those like Melvin Lee who are still willing to defend McConnell’s actions, and say despite handling the situation the wrong way he is a good man. They stand by his decision to become an informant and say he did the right thing. McConnell’s friends say, now that his name has been disclosed his life and the life of his family and friends are in danger, and that they were shocked to learn they had set him up and outed him to the public.
I guess we should be thankful that only one man died in the end, but it’s a little hard to do considering that man was LaVoy Finicum. It was really hard for me when I first saw the discovery. I became very emotional thinking that the people I had known for so long could be capable of kidnapping children or blowing up someone’s house. Even Ward didn’t deserve that. But as time passed and the Government didn’t move forward with that narrative and more discovery was released, it was clear that the person behind the information was Mark McConnell and that it was all a very dangerous fabrication. It appears to me that MCConnell purposefully mislead the FBI into thinking the worse. I shutter when I think of how many lives could have been lost because of his bullshit fairytale. No wonder Ward and Grasty reacted the way they did — No wonder the enormous build-up of forces that were preparing to go to war in Burns, Oregon. I want all of you who are holding McConnell’s hand and giving him credit right now, especially those of you that were on the Refuge with this guy, to understand that Mark McConnell was literally trying to set up a situation that would cause the FBI to attack that refuge and kill everyone in it — including you. Mark McConnell was feeding them lie – after lie – after lie – after lie — and he almost single handedly created another Waco. ~Pete Santilli