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Ranchers mourn Arizona man killed in wildlife refuge standoff

Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, holds as he guards the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Ammon Bundy, the leader of a small, armed group that is occupying a remote national wildlife preserve in Oregon said Tuesday that they will go home when a plan is in place to turn over management of federal lands to locals. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer)

Ranchers gathered in southwestern Utah to mourn the Arizona man who died when law enforcement agents arrested some of the armed group at a wildlife refuge standoff in Oregon.

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum died during a confrontation late Tuesday between FBI agents, Oregon state authorities and the armed activists’ leader, Ammon Bundy.

The St. George Spectrum reported Wednesday that dozens gathered at the Iron County Courthouse in Parowan for a memorial for the 55-year-old Arizona rancher.

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Sheep rancher Phillip Gardener organized the gathering after hearing of Finicum’s death on a dark highway. Finicum, from Canes Bed, Arizona in Mohave County, had served as spokesman of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the standoff.

Authorities said Finicum reached into his waistband, where he was known to keep a Colt. 45.

Few in attendance had met Finicum, but most echoed his criticisms of the federal government’s management of public lands.

Earlier this month, in an interview with NBC News, Finicum said he would rather be killed than be arrested.

“Absolutely … I have no intention of spending any of my days in a concrete box,” he said.

The standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began on Jan. 2, when the Bundy brothers and a group of men occupied the site’s headquarters in protest over public lands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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