Home / Badge Abuse / 24 Years Ago Today the Federal Govt Changed its Rules to Launch a Sniper Attack on Off-Grid Family

24 Years Ago Today the Federal Govt Changed its Rules to Launch a Sniper Attack on Off-Grid Family

ruby ridge
Samuel and Vicki Weaver (left and rear-center) pose with Sara and Rachel.

Randall and Vicki Weaver and their children wanted nothing more than to be left to live an isolated life in peace in their cabin enclave on a northern Idaho mountain top called Ruby Ridge. Untrusting of the federal government and of the belief society had taken an insurmountable turn for the worse, the Weavers — as many residents in the remote and breathtaking area — taught their children to be self-sufficient and defend themselves with firearms from unwanted intrusions onto the family’s property.

But the Weaver’s seemingly idyllic life came to an appallingly violent end over several hours from August 21 to 22, 1992, in a horrendously botched federal raid that would also profoundly alter perceptions about the U.S. government in the minds of even ordinary Americans.

Often afterward reported to be white supremacists, the Weavers considered themselves race “separatists” only — and intended no harm against others beyond that belief — though their stance often included the company of people with a more vehement ideology.

Regardless of the Weavers’ beliefs, the account of what federal agents perpetrated against the family under the premise of effecting law enforcement action implores Americans of every race to consider the telling outcome of untrammeled government power run amok.

In 1989, Randall “Randy” Weaver came under the scrutiny of federal agents intent on infiltrating sometimes-violent white supremacist organizations like the Aryan Nations — and eventually wound up charged for selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns to an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms [now, also, explosives] (ATF).

Weaver, notably, claimed he had been set up — thus flatly refusing the government’s offer to drop the charges if he would turn informant, feeding the feds information about various Aryan Nations members — and was indicted in December the following year.

Though Weaver’s insistence about the set-up leaves his failure to show up for a scheduled court date in February 1991 an altogether open question, a clerical error marking that court date for March didn’t prevent authorities from issuing a warrant for his arrest.

Knowing the Weavers possessed a relative arsenal — which Randall, Vicki, and their children were well-trained how to use — agents weren’t entirely sure how to carry out the warrant and so began intense surveillance of the family’s mountain home while carefully formulating a plan of action.

During this period, Vicki reportedly penned several darkly but vaguely threatening letters to federal agents, containing phrases such as “the tyrant’s blood will flow.”

Considering the family originally relocated to their outpost over mistrust of the government coupled with Randall’s claims concerning the charges which ultimately generated the warrant, Vicki’s language is understandable.

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Remember, whatever narrative about dangerous white separatists federal officials proffered about the Weaver family, Randall had only sold — under questionable circumstances — two sawed-off shotguns to a federal agent, and his failure to appear in court, for all intents and purposes, was the fault of the court clerk’s ultimately egregious error.

All in all, an isolationist family on a remote mountain hardly posed an imminent threat to anyone.

Nonetheless, federal marshals set in motion a plan in August 1992 that would send shockwaves across the country and around the world for its deadly ineptitude and wholly disproportionate use of force.

On August 21, marshals surprised Randall, his 14-year-old son Sammy, friend of the family Kevin Harrison, and the Weaver’s family dog, Striker, on a road near the family’s property. Though some of what happened next remains a matter of conjecture, the events mark a disturbing turn in the use of force for the purposes of an otherwise relatively innocuous warrant.

A fully camouflage-clad marshal shot and killed Striker — prompting Sammy to return fire at the group of marshals. Shots then rang out from both sides — in the end, both Sammy and U.S. Marshal Michael Degan lay dead. After the brief gun battle, Weaver and Harrison retreated to Ruby Ridge and marshals regrouped, bringing in FBI agents and setting up a sniper to watch movements on the property.

One of the most contentious aspects of following events concerned an abhorrently arbitrary relaxing of the FBI’s rules of engagement to handle the case.

Larry Potts headed the FBI’s criminal division and oversaw the deployment of the agency’s Hostage Rescue Team to break the standoff at Ruby Ridge — but in doing so, loosely nullified longstanding rules of engagement preventing agents from firing in anything other than self-defense. In doing so, Potts created a monstrously rogue agency capable of firing at will — and the results were expectedly disastrous.

Agents were ordered to shoot any armed man on sight — on the Weaver’s private property — and when Randall appeared with a weapon alongside his 16-year-ol daughter Sara and Harris, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi opened fire, hitting Weaver in the arm.

Weaver, Harris, and Sara sprinted back to the safety of the cabin, but another shot from Horiuchi hit Vicki in the head, killing her as she clutched the couple’s 10-month-old daughter in her arms — but the bullet passed through her and also wounded Harris.

An incredibly tense 11-day standoff ensued, as the terrified survivors holed up in the Ruby Ridge home, but ended when mediators convinced Randall to turn himself in.

Horiuchi later claimed he had not been aware Vicki stood in the doorway when he fired the fatal shot. Though he was charged in 1997 with involuntary manslaughter for the killing of Vicki Weaver, a federal judge dismissed the charges the following year under the controversial alleged immunity of federal officers from state prosecution.

In 2001, a federal appeals court overruled that claim to immunity, stating federal officials who violate the U.S. Constitution can, indeed, be held accountable at the state level — but the Idaho prosecutor never pursued the manslaughter charge.

Randall and Harris both faced murder charges for the death of the federal marshall — but in a surprising move by an Idaho jury, all charges against them were dropped, save the original failure to appear charge against Weaver that generated the fateful warrant.

Surviving members of the Weaver family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and in 1995, the patriarch received $100,000 and three of his daughters, $1 million each.

To this day, the grievous abuse of power fuels doubt in segments of the public about federal agencies’ ability to restrain itself in the use of unnecessary force disproportionate to putative threats.

Though the enormity of consequences of Ruby Ridge certainly echoed far into the future, the events have unfortunately sometimes been clouded by the Weaver family’s controversial ideologies. But those beliefs — as the families of countless other victims of a growing epidemic of state violence can attest — are of little consequence when the government acts with reckless impunity against a wide range of people from grossly different backgrounds.

Agents participating in and overseeing the siege of Ruby Ridge forced a sweeping internal investigation and concurrent reevaluation of policy — particularly due to the removal of imperative rules of engagement meant to protect civilians from the exact massacre that took place there.

And as is widely known, when the government receives the green light to abandon strictures protecting the public one time, it’s virtually guaranteed to happen again. As testament to this, the deadly and terroristic siege in Waco, Texas, by federal agents occurred shortly after the incident at Ruby Ridge.

On the 20th anniversary of her mother’s and brother’s murder by agents of the government, Sara Weaver poignantly recalled the harrowing details of her experience in an interview with the Associated Press — though she noted her father refuses to do the same. Losing her mother, who was indeed unarmed when she was killed, has been the most difficult aspect for Sara to come to terms with.

“We miss her terribly,” Sara lamented. “It never goes away.”

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Despite the unprecedented mishandling, the payout to the surviving Weaver family, and the sh*tstorm of debate and controversy ensuing from the incident at Ruby Ridge, the government has never fully admitted any wrongdoing in the case.

  • Ken

    The weavers were right, the government did fail them directly. They didn’t tell it right, the marshal fired first, shot the boys dog, boy fired on marshal killing him, agents gunned down a 11 year old child with a .22.

  • Prince

    Very sad government murdering women and children…

    • billdeserthills

      And the dog too, I know I’ll shoot anyone who kills my dog,
      that dog was prolly the kid’s best friend in the world

    • Brent Fisher

      And we are still afraid of guys with box cutters who read the wrong fairytale book.

      • PRINCE4EVER O(->

        Most of us awake with open minds know that 9/11 was a False-Flag.

  • pissed

    When the government wants something, right or completely wrong, they will without a second thought murder anyone that stands in their way… It happens many times a year but the stranglehold the government now has on the media prevents any of it from being reported in the news, unlike Ruby Ridge when the press actually had constitutional rights and protections.

    • Trisha Holmeide

      Oh, the press has rights and protections–they just don’t want to expose the truth because the majority who own media outlets or work in the field are ideologically aligned with the far left and are serving as propaganda agents. The internet , which Obama just announced he is giving to the Marxists and tyrants in the UN is for now our only hope of getting first hand truthful reporting and honest, educated opinions. When the Un gets hold of the Internet we can kiss that good bye just like the Germans who have to fear what they say on face book because they will be turned into the police and charged with hate crimes if the government doesn’t agree with their positions. Face it folks, the greedy who thought they were forcing the big companies to give everything they have a way free via net neutrality have condemned us to losing the last inkling of opportunity for to see, hear and read unfiltered opinions and news.

    • James Michael

      They report the exact lies the traitors and murderers…..want them to report….

  • ♓Ξ▲ѴƳ Ƙ∆RM∆~Ð∈ßϯ SᏝ▲V∈

    I’m sure glad that they were at the very least able to kill one of them, e.g. that Marshal. That brings a big ole ‘what goes around comes around’ smile to my face.

  • William Patrick Bower

    Many are right to want to withdraw from the insanity.

  • Mountain Rock Hauler

    But how many people know that Lon Horiuchi went on to kill Branch Davidians at Waco?

    • James Michael

      Murder you mean….and that murderer still is free….

  • Jim Jaudon

    Just curious, but does anyone remember which administration ran the Just-us Dept. in 1992?
    Republican George H. W. Bush. Republican. Uniparty.

  • Balek Sydon

    This is a tragic story. The same people that hold up the Weaver’s as heroes hating Black Lives Matter people is what drives me crazy. The State is attacking all of us and the only reason the State continues to get away with it is because we are divided even when we agree.

  • Ibcamn

    funny…the cowardly pussyfied cops could have walked up to the door…knocked….and told them,”there was an error in the court date paperwork,we need to rescheduale and then we can proceed with your court date”,then give them a copy[by hand]and walk away……..propblem solved,but the feds/gov’t had no intentions of doing that,they neededto get someone inside what they believed to be a group of bad people[again,a gov’t created evil]just like the 75 other terrorist attempts stopped by feds[the ones they created]not real ones,the three that were real were stopped by regular observant people,not the feds/cops…and this is what they did to this family,set them up because they didn’t want to play ball with the cops/feds,so the gov’t okayed their destruction on lies and fraud….now remember,the two supposed illegal shotguns that he sold to the feds,under cover,later were found to be ”legal”,they were well over the inches required by law[s] to illegal,so they were legal shotguns…..so all of it was started illegally by the feds,illegally….the gov’t knew it,but went ahead with it anyways because he wouldn’t go along with the feds illegal games..so all in all,the feds murdered members of his family for nothing,the cops and feds worked together to murder them for living off grid,murdered a family for the way they lived,illegally started it and ended it…..corruption and crimes from our gov’t…….what else have they done to innocent people[hint;thousands and thousands of nasty things]and will continue to do so in the future……..criminals,all of them.

    • James Michael

      Extortio and false charges are not a cause of action that has any jurisdiction…..

      • Ken

        They shot a child and his dog. I don’t care what his parents did, your a fool to think there is any justification to kill kids, and anyone else does it and they call that murder.

        • Brent Fisher

          Basically the government thought of it as a political nuisance and made them into a forced disappearence. Killing someone you don’t agree with just because you have a bigger toy and can violate the law doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a monster.

  • Let us also remember Alan Bock.author of Ambush at Ruby Ridge, who interviewed Randy Weaver and family as he knew it was an event that though “unpopular’ had to be recorded. , Libertarians. most of whom are now deceased, were supportive of his efforts. to tell the true story of the frightful events.

  • James Michael

    Felons, traitors and murderers never admit their wrongdoing…..