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Ruby Ridge

Ruby Ridge standoff
Vicki Weaver as seen from a USMS surveillance position on August 21, 1992
Date August 21 – August 31, 1992
Location Ruby Ridge, Idaho Panhandle, U.S.
Causes Randy Weaver refused an offer to become an informant in exchange for dismissal of charge of possession of illegal weapons
Result Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris arrested; Vicki Weaver, Sam Weaver and U.S. Marshal Bill Degan killed
Parties to the civil conflict
Randy Weaver and family
Kevin Harris
2 killed
2 wounded
1 U.S. Marshal killed

Ruby Ridge was the site of a deadly confrontation and siege in northern Idaho in 1992 between Randy Weaver, his family, and his friend Kevin Harris on the one hand and agents of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the other. It resulted in the death of Weaver's son Sammy, his wife Vicki, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan.

At the subsequent federal criminal trial of Weaver and Harris, Weaver's attorney Gerry Spence made accusations of "criminal wrongdoing" against every agency involved in the incident: the FBI, the USMS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for Idaho. At the completion of the trial, the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility formed a Ruby Ridge Task Force to investigate Spence's charges. The 1994 task force report was released in redacted form by Lexis Counsel Connect, an information service for attorneys. It raised questions about the conduct and policy of all the agencies.

The Ruby Ridge incident and the 1993 Waco siege, involving many of the same agencies and even the same personnel, caused public outcry and fueled the widening of the militia movement. To answer public questions about Ruby Ridge, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held a total of 14 days of hearings between September 6 and October 19, 1995, and subsequently issued a report calling for reforms in federal law enforcement to prevent a repeat of Ruby Ridge and to restore public confidence in federal law enforcement.


  • Development 1
    • ATF involvement 1.1
    • US Marshals Service involvement 1.2
    • Threat source profile 1.3
    • Rivera helicopter incident 1.4
  • The incident at the "Y" in the trails 2
  • The siege and controversy 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • See also 5
  • Documentaries 6
  • Further reading 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Randy Weaver, a former Iowa factory worker and U.S. Army combat engineer,[1] moved with his family to northern Idaho during the 1980s in order to "home-school his children and escape what he and his wife Vicki saw as a corrupted world."[2][3] Vicki, the religious leader of the family, believed that the apocalypse was imminent and believed her family would survive the apocalypse in a remote mountainous area. They bought twenty acres of land on Ruby Ridge in 1983 and began building a cabin.[4] The Weaver property was located in northern Idaho in Boundary County, on a hillside on Ruby Creek opposite Caribou Ridge near Naples.[5]

In 1984, Randy Weaver and his neighbor Terry Kinnison had a dispute over a $3,000 land deal. Kinnison lost the ensuing lawsuit and was ordered to pay Weaver an additional $2,100 in court costs and damages. Kinnison wrote letters to the FBI, Secret Service, and county sheriff alleging Weaver had threatened to kill the Pope, the President, and John V. Evans, governor of Idaho. In January 1985, the FBI and the Secret Service started an investigation. In February, Randy and Vicki Weaver were interviewed for hours by two FBI agents, two Secret Service agents, and the Boundary County sheriff and his chief investigator.[6] Although the Secret Service was told that Weaver was a member of the Aryan Nations and that he had a large weapon cache at his residence, Weaver denied the allegations and no charges were filed.[7]

The investigation noted that Weaver associated with Frank Kumnick, who was known to associate with members of the Aryan Nations. Weaver told the investigators that neither he nor Kumnick were members of the Aryan Nations and described Kumnick as "associated with the prosecutor in 1992 as overt act 7 of the Weaver family conspiracy against the federal government.[9][10]

ATF involvement

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms first became aware of Weaver in July 1986 when he was introduced to an ATF informant at a meeting of the Aryan Nations. Weaver had been invited by Frank Kumnick, who was the original target of the ATF investigation. It was Weaver's first attendance. Over the next three years, Weaver and the informant met several times.[7] In October 1989, the ATF claimed that Weaver sold the informant two sawed-off shotguns, with the overall length of the guns shorter than the legal limit set by federal law. In November 1989, Weaver accused the ATF informant of being a spy for the police; Weaver later wrote he had been warned by "Rico V."[11] The informant's handler, Herb Byerly, ordered him to have no further contact with Weaver. Eventually, the FBI informant Rico Valentino outed the ATF informant to Aryan Nations security.[12]

The ATF agent Byerly had come to regard Kumnick as just a "boastful show-off" and Weaver as even less involved. In June 1990, Byerly attempted to use the sawed-off shotgun charge as leverage to get Weaver to act as an informant for his investigation into the Aryan Nations.[10] When Weaver refused to become "a snitch," the ATF filed the gun charges in June 1990, also claiming Weaver was a bank robber with criminal convictions (those claims were false: at that time Weaver had no criminal record and the subsequent Senate investigation found: "Weaver was not a suspect in any bank robberies."[10]) Weaver denied the sawed-off weapon charge, claiming that the informant had purchased two legal shotguns from him and later shortened the guns. A federal grand jury later indicted him in December 1990 for making and possessing, but not for selling, illegal weapons in October 1989.[7]

ATF agents posed as broken-down motorists and arrested Randy and Vicki Weaver when they stopped to assist. Randy Weaver was told of the charges against him, released on bail, and told that his trial would begin on February 19, 1991. On January 22, 1991, the judge in the case notified the attorney Everett Hofmeister that he (Hofmeister) would be serving as Weaver’s attorney; Hofmeister made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Weaver.[13] On that same day, Weaver called the U.S. probation officer Karl Richins and informed him that Weaver was instructed to contact him on that date. Richins did not have the case file at that time, so he asked Weaver to leave his contact information and Richins would contact him when he received the paperwork. According to Richins, Weaver did not give him a telephone number.[14] The defense counsel Hofmeister sent letters to Weaver on January 19, January 31, and February 5 asking Weaver to contact him to work on his defense within the federal court system.

On February 5, the trial date was changed from February 19 to February 20 to give participants more travel time following a federal holiday. The court clerk sent a letter to the parties informing them of the date change, but the notice was not sent directly to Weaver, only to his attorney. On February 7, the probation officer sent Weaver a letter indicating that he now had the case file and needed to talk with Weaver. This letter erroneously indicated that Weaver's trial date was set for March 20.[14] On February 8, Hofmeister again attempted to contact Weaver by letter informing him that the trial was to begin on February 20 and that Weaver needed to contact him immediately. Hofmeister also made several calls to individuals who knew Weaver asking them to have Weaver call him. Hofmeister told Judge Harold L. Ryan he did not hear from Weaver before the scheduled court date.[15]

When Weaver did not appear in court on February 20, Judge Ryan issued a bench warrant for failure to appear in court. On February 26, Ken Keller, a reporter for the Kootenai Valley Times, telephoned the U.S. Probation Office and asked if the reason that Weaver did not show in court on February 20 was because the letter sent to him by Richins had the incorrect date. Upon finding a copy of the letter, the Chief Probation Officer, Terrence Hummel, contacted Judge Ryan's clerk and informed them of the incorrect date in the letter. Hummel also contacted the U.S. Marshals Service and Weaver’s attorney informing them of the error. The judge, however, refused to withdraw the bench warrant.

The U.S. Marshals Service did agree to put off executing the warrant until after March 20 to see if Weaver would show up in court on that day. If he were to show up on March 20, the DOJ claimed that all indications are that the warrant would have been dropped.[14] Instead of waiting to see if Weaver would show up on March 20, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) called a grand jury on March 14. The USAO failed to provide Richins’ erroneous letter (which proved that Weaver had been misinformed about his summons to federal court) as evidence to the grand jury, and the grand jury issued an indictment for failure to appear.[7]

US Marshals Service involvement

When the Weaver case was passed from the ATF to the Marshals Service, no one informed the marshals of the fact that ATF had attempted to solicit Weaver as an informant.[16]

As the law enforcement arm of the federal court, it was the duty of the US Marshals to bring in Randy Weaver, now considered a fugitive.[14] Unlike most federal fugitives, who flee across state lines to avoid arrest, Randy Weaver simply stayed at his remote home, threatening to resist any attempt to take him by force.[17][18]

Weaver was known to have an intense distrust of government, and it is believed that the erroneous Richins letter increased this sentiment and may have contributed to his reluctance to appear for trial. Weaver was clearly suspicious of what he viewed as inconsistent messages from the government and his own lawyer and this inconsistency further enforced his belief that there was a conspiracy against him.[14] Weaver came to believe that he would not receive a fair trial if he were to appear in court. His distrust grew further when he was erroneously told by his magistrate that if he lost the trial he would lose his land, essentially leaving Vicki homeless, and that the government would take his children away.[19]

U.S. Marshals Service officers made a series of attempts to have Weaver surrender peacefully, but Weaver refused to leave his cabin. Weaver negotiated with US Marshals Ron Evans, W. Warren Mays and David Hunt through third parties from March 5 to October 12, 1991, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Howen directed that the negotiations cease.[14] The US Attorney directed that all negotiations would go through Weaver's court-appointed counsel; however, Weaver did not have any contact with the attorney and refused to talk with him. Marshals then began preparing plans to capture Weaver to stand trial on the weapons charges and his failure to appear at the correct trial date.[7]

Although Marshals stopped the negotiations as ordered, they made other contact. March 4, 1992, US Marshals Ron Evans and Jack Cluff drove to the Weaver property and spoke with Weaver posing as real estate prospects.[14] At a March 27, 1992 USMS HQ meeting, Art Roderick code named the operation "Northern Exposure".[20] Surveillance teams were dispatched and cameras were set up to record activity at Weaver's residence. Marshals observed that Weaver and his family responded to vehicles and other visitors by taking up armed positions around the cabin until the visitors were recognized.[7]

Threat source profile

Beginning in February 1991, US Marshals developed a Threat Source Profile on Randy Weaver. The evolution of that profile was later criticized in a 1995 report by a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

The Subcommittee is […] concerned that, as Marshals investigating the Weaver case learned facts that contradicted information they previously had been provided, they did not adequately integrate their updated knowledge into their overall assessment of who Randy Weaver was or what threat he might pose. If the Marshals made any attempt to assess the credibility of the various people who gave them information about Weaver, they never recorded their assessments. Thus, rather than maintaining the Threat Source Profile as a living document, the Marshals added new reports to an ever-expanding file, and their overall assessment never really changed. These problems rendered it difficult for other law enforcement officials to assess the Weaver case accurately without the benefit of first-hand briefings from persons who had continuing involvement with him.[10]

Many of the people used by the marshals as third party go-betweens on the Weaver case—Bill and Judy Grider, Alan Jeppeson, Richard Butler—were evaluated by the marshals as more radical than the Weavers themselves. When Deputy US Marshal (DUSM) Dave Hunt asked Bill Grider about Randy Weaver: "Why shouldn't I just go up there ... and talk to him?" Bill Grider replied, "Let me put it to you this way. If I was sitting on my property and somebody with a gun comes to do me harm, then I'll probably shoot him."[21] In the later Department of Justice OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Grider's words were incorrectly reported as a threat made by Weaver.[22]

The profile included "a brief psychological profile completed by a person who had conducted no first-hand interviews and was sufficiently unfamiliar with the case that he referred to Weaver as "Mr. Randall" throughout."[10][23] A later memo circulated within the DOJ opined that: "The assumptions of federal and some state and local law enforcement personnel about Weaver—that he was a Green Beret, that he would shoot on sight anyone who attempted to arrest him, that he had collected certain types of arms, that he had "booby-trapped" and tunneled his property—exaggerated the threat he posed."[24]

Rivera helicopter incident

Following an April 18, 1992 fly-over by a helicopter for the Geraldo Rivera "Now It Can Be Told" TV show, US Marshal Service HQ received media reports that Weaver had fired on the helicopter.[25] That day in Idaho, a US Marshals team was installing surveillance cameras overlooking the Weaver property at the time of the fly-over. The field report for April 18, 1992 filed by Marshal W. Warren Mays reported seeing a helicopter near the Weaver property, but not hearing any shots fired.[26]

Weaver then granted an interview with a newspaper reporter in which he, family and friends present denied firing on the helicopter.[27] The helicopter pilot Richard Weiss eventually gave FBI FD-302 interviews denying that Weaver fired on his helicopter.[28]

The media reports that Weaver had fired on the Rivera helicopter became part of the justification later cited by USMS Wayne "Duke" Smith and FBI HRT Commander Richard Rogers in drawing up the Ruby Ridge Rules of Engagement on August 21–22, 1992. Also, in spite of Richard Weiss's repeated denials that shots had been fired at his helicopter, US Attorney Ron Howen would charge that, as Overt Act 32 of the Weaver's Conspiracy Against the Federal Government, Randy, Vicki and Harris fired two shots at the Rivera helicopter.[29]

The incident at the "Y" in the trails

Operation "Northern Exposure" was suspended for three months due to the confirmation hearings for USMS Director Henry E. Hudson.[30] The Weavers noticed the lack of USMS activity and began to believe the USMS had dropped the case.

On August 21, 1992, six marshals were sent to scout the area to determine suitable places away from the cabin to ambush and arrest Weaver.[7] The marshals, dressed in Military camouflage, were equipped with night-vision goggles and M16 rifles.[2] Deputy Marshals Art Roderick, Larry Cooper and Bill Degan formed the reconnaissance team, while Deputy Marshals David Hunt, Joseph Thomas and Frank Norris formed an observation post team on the ridge north of the cabin.[31]

At one point, Roderick threw two rocks at the Weaver cabin to test the reaction of the dogs.[32] The action provoked the dogs, and Weaver's friend Kevin Harris, and Weaver's 14-year-old son, Samuel, emerged and followed the dog Striker to investigate.[2] Harris and the younger Weaver were hoping that the dog had noticed a game animal since the cabin was out of meat.[33] Sammy Weaver told his father he believed the dogs had sensed either a large animal or a man in the woods. The Recon team marshals (Roderick, Cooper and Degan) initially retreated through the woods in radio contact with the OP team, but later took up hidden defensive positions.

Later the OP team marshals and the Weavers both claimed the Weaver dogs were alerted to the Recon team marshals in the woods after neighbors at the foot of the mountain started their pickup truck. The Recon team marshals retreated through the woods to the "Y" juncture in the trails 500 yards west of the cabin, out of sight of the cabin. Sammy and Harris followed the dog Striker on foot through the woods while Randy also on foot took a separate logging trail. Vicki, Sara, Rachel, and baby Elisheba remained at the cabin, at first appearing anxious to the OP team, but later appearing relaxed. Randy encountered the marshals at the "Y"; Roderick claimed to have yelled, "Back off! U.S. Marshal!" upon sighting Weaver, and Cooper said he had shouted, "Stop! U.S. Marshal!" Later statements by Roderick, Cooper and Randy agreed that Randy responded by cursing and retreating from the marshals. About a minute later the dog and the boys came out of the woods and a firefight erupted between the marshals and Sammy and Harris.[34][35]

In the firefight, Deputy Marshal Roderick shot and killed Weaver's dog and Samuel Weaver returned fire at Roderick. After the Federal agents began firing, 14-year-old Samuel Weaver was killed by a shot to the back while retreating,[36][37] and Deputy Marshal Degan was shot and killed by Harris.[38] The bullet that killed Sammy was shot by Larry Cooper.[39]

The ballistics report showed that nineteen rounds were fired. Art Roderick fired one shot from an M16A1, Sammy Weaver fired three rounds from a .223 Ruger Mini-14, Bill Degan fired seven rounds from an M-16 while moving at least 21 feet, Larry Cooper fired six rounds from a 9mm Colt submachinegun, and Kevin Harris fired two rounds from a .30-06 M1917 Enfield Rifle.

Accounts differ between Harris and the Federal agents as to who shot first - an issue which can assign culpability for the killings by removing the right of self-defense.[40] In a 1993 trial over the death of Deputy Marshal Degan, prosecutors alleged that Harris had fired the first shot. The trial jury acquitted Harris on grounds of self-defense, finding in favor of the defense version of events.

In testimony about the firefight at the 1993 trial, Larry Cooper admitted "You have all these things compressed into a few seconds.... It's difficult to remember what went on first." The ballistics experts called by the prosecution testified on cross examination by defense that the physical evidence did not contradict either the prosecution or defense theories on the firefight.[41] Martin Fackler testified that Roderick shot and killed the dog, Degan shot Sammy through the right elbow, Harris shot and killed Degan, and Cooper "probably" shot and killed Sammy. The 1993 trial jury accepted the defense theory of the firefight and acquitted Harris on grounds of self-defense. In 1997 Boundary County Sheriff Greg Sprungl conducted an independent search of the "Y" and Lucien Haag confirmed that a bullet found in that search matched Cooper's gun and contained fibers that matched Sammy Weaver's shirt.[42]

The version of the firefight told by Deputy marshals Roderick and Cooper was that the dog, followed by Harris then Sammy, came out of the woods. Deputy Marshal Degan challenged Harris, who turned and shot Degan dead without Degan firing a single shot. Roderick then shot the dog once, Sammy fired at Roderick twice, and Roderick fired once again. Roderick and Cooper heard multiple gunshots from the Weaver party. Cooper fired two three-shot bursts at Harris and Cooper saw Harris fall "like a sack of potatoes". An impact caused leaves to fly up in front of Cooper who then sought cover. Cooper saw Sammy run away. Cooper radioed to OP team Dave Hunt that he had wounded or killed Harris.[43]

Harris' version was that, when the dog followed by Sammy then Harris came out of the woods, the dog ran up to Cooper and danced about as he did in playing with the children. The dog then ran to Roderick, who shot the dog in front of Sammy, who then yelled "You shot my dog, you son of a bitch" and shot at Roderick. Degan came out of the woods firing his M16 and hit Sammy in the arm. Harris then fired and hit Degan in the chest knocking him down. Cooper fired at Harris who ducked for cover. Cooper fired again and Sammy was hit in the back and fell. Harris fired about 6 feet in front of Cooper and forced him to take cover. Cooper announced that he was a US Marshal. Harris checked Sammy's body, found him dead, and ran to the cabin.[44]

After the firefight at the "Y", marshals Hunt and Thomas went from the hillside to a neighbor's house in order to request assistance from the USMS Crisis Center while marshals Norris, Cooper and Roderick stayed with Degan's body at the "Y". Randy and Vicki went to the "Y" and retrieved Sammy's body. Randy, Vicki and Harris placed Samuel's body in a guest cabin near the main cabin. Weaver, Vicki, their three daughters and Harris holed up in their house.[44] From 11:15 a.m. onward, Hunt reported to the Crisis Center in Washington D.C. that no further gunfire had been heard.[43]

The USMS alerted the FBI that a marshal had been killed, and the FBI sent the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) from Quantico to Idaho. Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Eugene Glenn of the Salt Lake City FBI office was appointed Site Commander and Idaho State Police, ATF, Marshals Service, FBI, US Border Patrol[45] and county sheriff's office were mobilized. Also on August 21, 1992, Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus declared a state of emergency in Boundary County, which allowed the FBI to use the Idaho National Guard Armory at Bonners Ferry and, after an initial delay, to use National Guard armored personnel carriers (APCs).[46] A stand-off ensued for 12 days as several hundred federal agents surrounded the house and negotiations for a surrender were attempted.

The siege and controversy

On August 22, the second day of the siege, the FBI HRT sniper/observer teams were deployed to the cabin while an armored personnel carrier carrying negotiators approached to make a surrender callout at the cabin. Before the deployment, HRT Commander Richard Rogers briefed the sniper/observer teams on special rules of engagement approved for use on Ruby Ridge. These military-style rules varied from the FBI's standard deadly force policy. Some snipers later described them as a "green light" to "shoot on sight."[47]

The Ruby Ridge Rules of Engagement (ROE) had been drawn up on the basis of reports from the headquarters of the USMS and FBI, bolstered by unconfirmed news media accounts accepted by HQ, that exaggerated the threat posed by the Weavers.

  1. If any adult male is observed with a weapon prior to the announcement, deadly force can and should be employed, if the shot can be taken without endangering any children.
  2. If any adult in the compound is observed with a weapon after the surrender announcement is made, and is not attempting to surrender, deadly force can and should be employed to neutralize the individual.
  3. If compromised by any animal, particularly the dogs, that animal should be eliminated.
  4. Any subjects other than Randall Weaver, Vicki Weaver, Kevin Harris, presenting threats of death or grievous bodily harm, the FBI rules of deadly force are in effect. Deadly force can be utilized to prevent the death or grievous bodily injury to oneself or that of another.[48]

Standard deadly force policy of the FBI was: "Agents are not to use deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or the defense of another, when they have reason to believe they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Whenever feasible, verbal warning should be given before deadly force is applied."[49] Under the Ruby Ridge Rules of engagement 3 and 4, the Weaver dogs, the Weaver children, and third parties were subject to the standard deadly force policy and could only be shot in self-defense if they presented a danger of death or grievous bodily harm. However, under the Ruby Ridge ROE 1 and 2, deadly force against the Weaver adults should be used without the justification of defense and without any verbal warning.

The Denver FBI SWAT team assigned to Ruby Ridge thought the ROE were "crazy" and agreed among themselves to follow the FBI deadly force policy. However, most of the FBI HRT sniper/observers accepted the ROE as modifying the deadly force policy. Examples: HRT sniper Dale Monroe saw the ROE as a "green light" to shoot armed adult males on sight and HRT sniper Edward Wenger believed that if he observed armed adults, he could use deadly force, but he was to follow standard deadly force policy for all other individuals. Fred Lanceley, the FBI Hostage Negotiator at Ruby Ridge, was "surprised and shocked" at the ROE, the most severe rules he had ever heard in his over 300 hostage situations and characterized the ROE as inconsistent with standard policy.[50] A later Senate report criticized the ROE as "virtual shoot-on-sight orders."[10]

Before the negotiators arrived at the cabin, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, from a position over 200 yards north and above the Weaver cabin,[51] shot and wounded Randy Weaver in the back with the bullet exiting his right armpit, while he was lifting the latch on the shed to visit the body of his dead son.[52] (The sniper testified at the later trial that he had put his crosshairs on Weaver's spine, but Weaver moved at the last second.) Then, as Weaver, his 16-year-old daughter Sara,[53] and Harris ran back toward the house, Horiuchi fired a second bullet, killing Vicki Weaver,[54] and wounded Harris in the chest. Vicki Weaver was standing behind the door through which Harris was entering the house, holding their 10-month-old baby Elisheba[53] in her arms.[55]

The Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Ruby Ridge Task Force Report (June 10, 1994) stated in section I. Executive Summary subhead B. Significant Findings that the second shot did not satisfy constitutional standards for legal use of deadly force.[56] The OPR review also found the lack of a request to surrender was "inexcusable", since Harris and the two Weavers were running for cover without returning fire and were not an imminent threat.

The task force also specifically blamed Horiuchi for firing through the door, not knowing whether someone was on the other side of it. While controversy exists as to who is responsible for approving the ROE that were being followed by the sniper, the task force also condemned the so-called "rules of engagement" allowing shots to be fired with no request for surrender.[52]

Both FBI HQ and the Site Commanders in Idaho re-evaluated the situation based on information they were receiving from US Marshals Hunt, Cooper and Roderick about what had happened on August 21. On about August 24, 1992, the fourth day of the siege on the Weaver family, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson wrote a memo:

OPR 004477
Something to Consider
1. Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.
2. No one saw Weaver do any shooting.
3. Vicki has no charges against her.
4. Weaver's defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was
barking at. Some guys in camys shot his dog.
Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the
shooting [of Degan]. He [Weaver] is in pretty strong legal position."[10][57]

On August 26, 1992, 10:53 a.m., the Rules of Engagement that had been in effect since the arrival of the HRT on August 22 were revoked.[58]

The stand-off was ultimately resolved by sympathetic civilian negotiators including Bo Gritz, Jack McLamb, and Jackie Brown. Harris surrendered on August 30. FBI HRT Commander gave Gritz a deadline to get the remaining Weavers to surrender, else the standoff would be resolved by a tactical assault.[59][60] Randy Weaver and his daughters surrendered the next day. Both Harris and Randy Weaver were arrested. Weaver's daughters were released to the custody of relatives, although some consideration was given to charging Sara, who was 16, as an adult.[61]

At the trial that followed, Weaver was ultimately acquitted of all charges except missing his original court date and violating his bail conditions, for which he was sentenced to 18 months and fined $10,000. Credited with time served, Weaver spent an additional 4 months in prison. Weaver's defense attorney, Gerry Spence, rested his case without offering a defense. Instead he convinced the jury to find as they did merely through his cross-examination and discrediting of the government witnesses and evidence.

Kevin Harris was defended by attorney David Niven and acquitted of all charges.

Defense counsels for Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris alleged throughout their 1993 trial that agents of the ATF, USMS, and FBI were themselves guilty of serious wrongdoing, leading the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a "Ruby Ridge Task Force," which delivered a 542-page report on June 10, 1994, to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The report was never officially released, although a redacted version was circulated by Lexis Counsel Connect,[62] an information service for attorneys.

Questions persisted about Ruby Ridge and the subsequent Waco Siege, which involved the same agencies and many of the same officials. The Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held fourteen days of hearings, ending on October 19, 1995. The hearings were broadcast on CSPAN and confirmed many of the questions raised by the DOJ OPR Report.[63]


Both the internal 1994 Ruby Ridge Task Force Report and the public 1995 Senate subcommittee report on Ruby Ridge criticized the rules of engagement as unconstitutional. A 1995 GAO report on use of force by federal law enforcement agencies stated: "In October 1995, Treasury and Justice adopted use of deadly force policies to standardize the various policies their component agencies had adopted over the years." The major change was the requirement of a reasonable belief of an "imminent" danger of death or serious physical injury, which brought all federal LEA deadly force policies in line with US Supreme Court rulings (Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 18 (1985) and Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)) that applied to state and local LE agencies.[64]

The surviving members of the Weaver family filed a wrongful death suit for $200 million. In an out-of-court settlement in August 1995, the federal government awarded Randy Weaver $100,000 and his three daughters $1 million each. The government did not admit any wrongdoing in the deaths of Sammy and Vicki.[65][66] On the condition of anonymity, a DOJ official told the Washington Post that he believed the Weavers probably would have won the full amount if the case had gone to trial.[67]

FBI director Louis Freeh disciplined or proposed discipline for twelve FBI employees over their handling of the incident and the later prosecution of Randy Weaver and Harris. He described the incident before the U.S. Senate hearing investigation as "synonymous with the exaggerated application of federal law enforcement" and stated "law enforcement overreacted at Ruby Ridge."[68]

A CBS miniseries about the Ruby Ridge incident, entitled Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy, aired on May 19 and May 21, 1996. It was based on the book Every Knee Shall Bow by reporter Jess Walter and starred Laura Dern as Vicki, Kirsten Dunst as Sara, and Randy Quaid as Randy.[2] The TV series was edited together in movie form as The Siege at Ruby Ridge.[69]

FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi was indicted for manslaughter in 1997 by the Boundary County, Idaho, prosecutor just before the statute of limitations for the crime of manslaughter expired, but the trial was removed to federal court and quickly dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity.[70] The decision to dismiss the charges was reversed by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, which held that enough uncertainty about the facts of the case existed for Horiuchi to stand trial on state manslaughter charges.[71] Ultimately, the then-sitting Boundary County Prosecutor, Brett Benson, who had defeated Woodbury in the 2000 election, decided to drop the charges because he felt it was unlikely the state could prove the case and too much time had passed. Yagman, the special prosecutor, responded that he "could not disagree more with this decision than I do."[72]

Kevin Harris was also indicted for the first-degree murder of DUSM Bill Degan, but the charge was dismissed on grounds of double jeopardy because he had been acquitted in the federal criminal trial on the same charge in 1993.[73]

Randy and Sara Weaver wrote a 1998 paperback book, The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge, about the incident (the appendix of the book is a reprint of the 1995 Report on the U.S. Senate Ruby Ridge Hearing).

The attorney for Kevin Harris pressed Harris's civil suit for damages, although federal officials vowed they would never pay someone who had killed a U.S. Marshal. In September 2000, after persistent appeals, Harris was awarded a $380,000 settlement from the government.[74]

The Weaver family, including Randy, later moved to Kalispell, Montana, where Sara and the other two Weaver daughters are employed. After becoming a born-again Christian, Sara Weaver said in 2012 that she had forgiven the federal agents who killed her mother and brother.[75]

See also


Randy Weaver and the Siege at Ruby Ridge have been the focus of numerous documentaries.

  • "American Standoff," Retro Report / New York Times, Oct. 26, 2014.
  • Season 1, Episode 1: "The Legend of Ruby Ridge" of the documentary series Secret Rulers of the World. – April 2001
  • Atrocities at Ruby Ridge: the Randy Weaver Story
  • A&E Network American Justice series, episode 047 – "Deadly Force": A look at controversial law enforcement policy. Features the police bombing of the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia, which killed 11, and the shootings of Randy Weaver's wife and son at Ruby Ridge. Bill Kurtis hosts.
  • "Ruby Ridge Investigation", by Nightline 1995, ABC News; ASIN: B00005BK47
  • "Ruby Ridge", Reality Productions Group for TLC (The Learning Channel), television, 2000. Includes interviews with Randy and Rachel Weaver, FBI Site Commander Eugene Glenn, HRT Negotiator Fred Lanceley, civilian negotiators Bo Gritz and Jackie Brown, among others.

Further reading

  • Alan Bock (1995). Ambush at Ruby Ridge: How Government Agents Set Randy Weaver Up and Took His Family Down. ISBN 1-880741-48-2.
  • Jess Walter (1995, 2002). Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family, ISBN 9780060007942(originally published as Every Knee Shall Bow 1995), the 2002 revised edition includes an index. The Spokesman-Review received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for its coverage of the story. ISBN 0-06-000794-X.
  • Gerry Spence (1996), From Freedom To Slavery: The Rebirth of Tyranny in America, St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-14342-8.
  • Jon Ronson (2002). Them: Adventures with Extremists. ISBN 0-7432-3321-2.
  • Randy and Sara Weaver (1998) The Federal Siege At Ruby Ridge: In Our Own Words. ISBN 0-9664334-0-8.
  • Christopher Whitcomb (2001) Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. ISBN 0-552-14788-5.
  • Danny O. Coulson & Elaine Shannon (1999). No Heroes: Inside the FBI's Secret Counter-Terror Force. ISBN 0-671-02062-5
  • Ronald Kessler (2002). The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI. ISBN 0-312-98977-6
  • Tony D. and Jackie J. Brown (2000). The First Canary: The Inside Story of Ruby Ridge and A Decade Of Cover Up. ISBN 0-9710248-0-4


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ Randy Weaver interview, in Ruby Ridge, Reality Productions Group for TLC (The Learning Channel), television, 2000.
  4. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, pp. 50–55.
  5. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks HarperCollins, 2002.
  6. ^ a b Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins, 2002, pp. 63–65.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g D.O.J. Office of Professional Responsibility Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, [1]
  8. ^ Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994.
  9. ^ Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994., IV. Specific issues Investigated, L. Scope of the Indictment and Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct Before the Grand Jury
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Ruby Ridge: Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 1995.
  11. ^ Randy and Sara Weaver. The Federal Siege At Ruby Ridge: In Our Own Words, Ruby Ridge Inc., 1998, page 29.
  12. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, HarperCollins–ReganBooks, 2002, p. 112.
  13. ^ Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, June 10, 1994. IV. SPECIFIC ISSUES INVESTIGATED B. THE FAILURE OF WEAVER TO APPEAR FOR TRIAL
  14. ^ a b c d e f g
  15. ^ US DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, IV. Specific Issues Investigated, B. The Failure of Weaver to Appear for TriaL, 2. Statement of Facts, c. February 20, 1991 - The Rescheduled Trial Date. "On February 20, Howen and defense counsel Hofmeister appeared before the U.S. district court judge Harold L. Ryan. At that time, Hofmeister told the court that he had been unable to contact Weaver."
  16. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994. "Indeed, it was not until over a year later that the marshals learned of this action."
  17. ^ "Feds Have Fugitive ’Under Our Nose’," Spokane Spokesman Review, March 1, 1992, A19.
  18. ^ "Marshals Know He’s There But Leave Fugitive Alone," New York Times, March 13, 1992, A14.
  19. ^ Walter, Jess (2002). "Ruby Ridge:The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family", p.140. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-000794-2.
  20. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, Harper Collins-Regan Books, 2002, p. 151. ISBN 0-06-000794-X.
  21. ^ Jesse Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, 2002, p. 132.
  22. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, attributes the quote "if a man enters my property with a gun to do me harm, you can bet that I'm going to shoot him to protect myself" to Weaver citing Report of Investigation by Mays, March 6, 1991, at 2, and also notes "Law enforcement regarded the Griders as "more radical and dangerous than Weaver." See Addendum to Enforcement Division Daily Report, February 28, 1991, at 1."
  23. ^ US DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report June 10, 1994 quotes the report of Dr. Walter J. Stenning, May 13, 1991, (sic)ing all references to "Mr. Randall" and the "Randall" family and noting "Dr. Stenning appears to have relied on information already amassed and did not conduct an independent investigation."
  24. ^ April 5, 1995 memorandum by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, April 5, 1995, cited in Ruby Ridge: Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 1995.
  25. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, Section VI Chronology of Events.
  26. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Section IV Specific Issues Investigated, C. Efforts by the Marshals Service to Effect the Arrest of Weaver, foot note 246.
  27. ^ Mike Weland, "An Interview with the Randy Weaver Family", Bonners Ferry Herald, May 2, 1992.
  28. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, footnote 1196: "Only one of the four people in the helicopter thought he heard shots; the other three heard nothing of were certain that the helicopter had not taken fire. A photographer in the helicopter saw someone gesture at the helicopter and thought he heard two shots on a boom microphone. FD-302 Interview of Dave Marlin, September 16, 1992. However, another passenger said that no shots has been fired and that "it would have been 'grossly unfair' to accuse the Weavers of shooting." FD-302 Interview of Richard Weiss, September 11 & 18, 1992, at 1–2; see FD-302 Interview of Brooke Skulski, September 28, 1992. Weaver denied that shots had been fired at the helicopter. "Fugitive: No Surrender," Cour D'Alene Press, May 3, 1992, at 1. Deputy _____ was on the property on the day of the alleged shooting, but was unaware of any evidence that shots had been fired. See Report of Investigation by Mays, April 18, 1992." (Typos present in download of Task Force Report from Lexis Counsel Connect.)
  29. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Section IV Specific Issues Investigated, L. Scope of the Indictment and Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct before the Grand Jury.
  30. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, HarperCollins-ReganBooks, 2002, page 158. ISBN 0-06-000794-X.
  31. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, 10 June 1994, p.112. (IV. Specific Issues Investigated D. Marshals Service Activities Between August 17 and August 21, 1992 2. Statement of Facts b. Shooting at the "Y" (d). The OP Team
  32. ^ D.O.J. Office of Professional Responsibility Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Page 121
  33. ^
  34. ^ Ruby Ridge: Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, 1995, Section B. United States Marshal Service, 5. August 21, 1992 Firefight, pp. 38–49
  35. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins 2002, Chapter Eleven, pp. 163–180.
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Remember Ruby Ridge" by Timothy Lynch
  39. ^ In 1997 Boundary County Sheriff Greg Sprungl conducted an independent search of the "Y" and Lucien Haag confirmed that a bullet found in that search matched Cooper's gun and contained fibers that matched Sammy Weaver's shirt.
    Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins 2002, p.390
  40. ^ All about Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge, by David Lohr – Crime Library on Archived December 6, 2003 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ (trial testimony, Martin Fackler on June 8, 1993 and Lucien "Luke" Haag on June 10, 1993)
  42. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins 2002, p.390
  43. ^ a b Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, Section IV. Specific Issues Investigated, D. Marshals Service Activities Between August 17 and August 21, 1992.
  44. ^ a b Randy and Sara Weaver, Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge: In Our Own Words, Ruby Ridge Inc. 1998)
  45. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report June 10, 1994. USMS Crisis Center Log August 21, 1992 placed US Border Patrol among respondents at Ruby Ridge.
  46. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report June 10, 1994, page 235.
  47. ^ Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, (June 10, 1994), Section IV. Specific Issues Investigated, F. FBI’S Rules of Engagement and Operations on August 21 and August 22, 1992.
  48. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Section IV Specific Issues Investigated, F. FBI's Rules of Engagement and Operations on August 21 and August 22, 1992, pp. 156–193, and 200–208.
  49. ^ Jess Walter, Every Knee Shall Bow, HarperCollins, 1998. p. 190.
  50. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Section IV Specific Issues Investigated, F. FBI's Rules of Engagement and Operations on August 21 and August 22, 1992, pp. 156–193, 200–208.
  51. ^ US DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, IV. Specific Issues Investigated, F. FBI's Rules of Engagement and Operations on August 21 and August 22, 1992, 2. Statement of Facts, f. Placement of HRT Sniper/Observers in Area Surrounding the Weaver Cabin
  52. ^ a b
  53. ^ a b Bill Hewitt, "A time to heal", People Weekly, September 25, 1995
  54. ^ Tom Norganthau, "The Echoes of Ruby Ridge", Newsweek, 28 Aug 1995.
  55. ^
  56. ^ Concurring, the Ruby Ridge: Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 1995 stated: "Legality of the Second Shot – The Subcommittee believes that the second shot was inconsistent with the FBI's standard deadly force policy and was unconstitutional. It was even inconsistent with the special Rules of Engagement."
  57. ^ Danny Coulson and Elaine Shannon, No Heroes: Inside the FBI's Secret Counter-Terror Force, Pocket Books, 1999, 2002, ISBN 978-0-671-02062-0 .
  58. ^ DOJ OPR Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, Jun 10, 1994, Section VI Chronology of Events.
  59. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks HarperCollins, 2002.
  60. ^ Alan W. Bock, Ambush at Ruby Ridge, Diane Books, 1998.
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ Ruby Ridge: Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, 1995, INTRODUCTION: "In the summer of 1995, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information announced that it would hold public hearings into allegations that several branches of the Departments of Justice and the Treasury had engaged in serious criminal and professional misconduct in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of Randall Weaver and Kevin Harris at Ruby Ridge, Idaho."
  64. ^ United States General Accounting Office, GAO Report to the House Subcommittee on Treasury, USE OF FORCE: ATF Policy, Training and Review Process Are Comparable to DEA’s and FBI’s, March 1996.
  65. ^ Stephen Labaton, "Separatist Family Given $3.1 Million from Government", New York Times, 16 August 1995.
  66. ^ Ronald J. Ostrow, "U.S. to Pay $3.1 Million for '92 Idaho Shootout: Court: Settlement in Weaver case reflects loss of mother, son in Ruby Ridge incident. But wrongdoing is denied.", Los Angeles Times, 16 Aug 1995.
  67. ^ Tim Lynch, "Remember Ruby Ridge", National Review Online, 21 Aug 2002.
  68. ^ Opening Statement of Louis J. Freeh, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Government Information Committee on the Judiciary – Ruby Ridge Hearing, United States Senate, October 19, 1995
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^ IDAHO v. HORIUCHI, No. 98-30149, Dec. 20, 2000 – June 05, 2001 Appeals Court ruling on Horiuchi; includes Special Rules of Engagement and a dissent by Judge Alex Kozinski
  72. ^
  73. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, HarperCollins ReganBooks, 2002, pp. 389–390.
  74. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, HarperCollins ReganBooks, 2002, pp. 392–393.
  75. ^ Geranios, Nicholas K., Yahoo! News, 20 August 2012

External links

  • David Lohr, "Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge", truTV Crime Library
  • , by Gerry Spence (Randy Weaver's defense attorney)From Freedom to SlaveryExcerpts from
  • Department Of Justice report
  • The Ruby Ridge (Randy Weaver) Trial (1993), at University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law, Famous Trials.
  • CBS News August 10, 2001, "New Ruby Ridge Probe"
  • CBS News November 25, 2002, "FBI Whistleblower Harassed"
  • CBS News May 11, 2001, "McVeigh Vents On '60 Minutes'"
  • "Idaho vs Randy Weaver" from the CourtTV Crime Library
  • IDAHO v. HORIUCHI, No. 98-30149, Dec. 20, 2000 – June 05, 2001 Appeals Court ruling on Horiuchi; includes Special Rules of Engagement and a dissent by Judge Alex Kozinski
  • "Ambush at Ruby Ridge" by Alan W. Bock, Reason, October 1993
  • American Patriot Friends Network, Ruby Ridge page

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