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Burns Police Investigating Pacific Patriots Network Co-Founder

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Amanda Peacher/OPB
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B.J. Soper speaks into a megaphone. Protesters with the Pacific Patriots Network were slightly outmatched in number by Harney County residents at a protest in Burns.

The Oregon co-founder of the Pacific Patriots Network — a militia group that arrived in Harney County during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge — is being investigated by the Burns Police Department for an alleged “domestic situation,” according to two local law enforcement sources.

Burns investigators are deciding whether to charge B.J. Soper for an incident that took place in January. Law enforcement sources have shared details of the allegations against Soper, but OPB will not report those until the investigation is completed.

The Burns PD is expected to make a decision in the next two weeks.

Soper played a prominent role in organizing protests against the FBI and local Sheriff David Ward during the occupation. He repeatedly put calls out for militia members from around the country to travel to Burns, with the goal that thousands of people would arrive in the small town in the high desert.

Those numbers never turned out. Some locals praised Soper and the PPN for their involvement in organizing the rallies against the FBI, while others criticized him for escalating an already tense situation.

In a text exchange with an OPB reporter, Soper stated he had “no idea” why he would be under investigation. When told of details of the allegations, Soper texted: “Lol…oh gotcha..Good ol rumor mill!”

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting