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The Ruby Ridge Cabin
Credit: Spokesman-Review photo/Shawn Jacobson
Vicki Weaver with her 4 children.
Credit: Sara Weaver, via PBS
Randy Weaver's mugshot
Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office
Kevin Harris with his newborn son in 1990.
Credit: The Spokesman-Review
US Marshall William Degan was killed in the siege.
Protesters gathered near Ruby Ridge during the standoff.
Credit: The Spokesman Review
Killer(s): Randy Weaver, Kevin Harris,
Victim(s): Samuel "Sammy" Weaver, William Degan, Vicki Weaver,
Written by: Jewls Krueger
Randy Weaver was a former US Green Beret soldier who moved his family to rural Idaho in an effort to get away from a corrupt government. The family lived without electricity and the four children were homeschooled by Randy and his wife, Vicki Weaver. Randy was somewhat involved in white supremacy organizations, and after meeting an undercover ATF agent at a meeting for the white supremacy group, he sold the agent two illegal sawed off shotguns. Instead of charging Weaver for the sale of the illegal guns right away, ATF officials attempted to use the charges as leverage to get Weaver to turn into an informant against the white supremacy group, but Weaver refused to become a "snitch".
In January of 1991, Randy Weaver was arrested on a road near his home for the weapons charged, but later released on bail. His trail was set for February 20, 1991, but Weaver did not show up and a bench warrant was issued for Randy Weaver. Weaver felt that if he were to stand trial he wouldn't receive a fair trail, and claimed to heavily resist any attempt to take him by force.
The US Marshalls took over the case and became responsible for apprehending Weaver. They set up surveillance of the property and discovered anytime the Weavers had a visitor, they would hide around the property with guns until they recognized the visitor, then go back to normal. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Weaver family was not going to go down without a fight.
On August 21, 1992, six US Marshalls scouted the area surrounding the Weaver cabin to determine if there was an area where they could apprehend Weaver. The Weaver's family friend Kevin Harris was at the Weaver cabin at the time. During the mission, a Marshall threw a rock near the property to test the Weavers' dogs reaction, at which point the dog started up the hill and began to track the agents. Randy Weaver, his son Sammy, and Kevin Harris followed the dogs and eventually caught up with the Marshalls at a point where two trails met and made a "Y". The Marshalls shouted, "Stop! US Marshall!", but gunfire erupted and Sammy Weaver and US Marshall William Degan were shot and killed.
After the incident at the "Y", the FBI sent a Hostage Rescue Team to Ruby Ridge, and the national guard responded to the area after the Idaho Governor declared a state of emergency. Over the next 11 days, several hundred federal agents surrounded the cabin while the FBI attempted to negotiate a surrender. The day after the "Y" shootout, snipers were deployed around the cabin and told to fire upon any adult that they saw if that adult was armed. On the same day the snipers were deployed, a sniper named Lon Horiuchi spotted Randy Weaver with a gun and fired, hitting Randy in the back and injuring him. Randy Weaver ran back to the front of his cabin and opened the front door to enter, at which point Horiuchi shot again. This time the bullet went through Randy Weaver's chest and struck Vicki Weaver, killing her and further injuring Randy. FBI negotiators continued to attempt a surrender but were unsuccessful until August 31st when Kevin Harris and Randy Weaver surrendered and the stand-off ended.
During the standoff, supporters of the Weaver family gathered near the secured parameter of the property and began to protest what the government agencies were doing, believing that the Weaver family was being unfairly targeted.
After their surrender, Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris were both charged with various things. Randy Weaver was ultimately acquitted of everything except missing his initial court date and violating the terms of his bail. He served only 16 months in jail and was fined $10,000. Kevin Harris, who had also been charged with the death of US Marshall William Degan, was acquitted on all charges and served no further time behind bars.
The stand-off at Ruby Ridge happened just a few months before the siege of the Branch Dividian Compound in Waco, and it's believed that the FBI took a different course of action in Waco due to how the Ruby Ridge incident played out. Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh also cited the incident at Ruby Ridge for one of his motivations in the bombing.
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