Randy Weaver

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Randy Weaver
Born (1948-01-03)January 3, 1948
Villisca, Iowa, U.S.
Died May 11, 2022(2022-05-11) (aged 74)
Other names Pete
Education Iowa Central Community College (dropped out)
University of Northern Iowa (dropped out)
Known for Ruby Ridge
Spouse(s) Vicki Jordison (m. 1971; d. 1992)
Linda Gross (m. 1999)
Children 4
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1968-1970
Rank Sergeant
Awards National Defense Service Medal, Parachutist Badge

Randall Claude Weaver (January 3, 1948May 11, 2022) was a central participant in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff at his cabin near Naples, Idaho.[1][2][3] Weaver and his family held white separatist views.[4] Weaver, his family, and a friend named Kevin Harris engaged in an armed standoff with U.S. Marshals and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. During the standoff, Weaver's 14-year-old son Sammy was shot in the back and killed by a U.S. Marshal, after which Harris shot and killed U.S. Marshal William Degan. Weaver was later shot in the back by a federal sniper. Harris was shot by the same sniper. The bullet that wounded Harris killed Weaver's wife, Vicki, standing behind the door of the Weaver's home. Vicki was holding the family's infant daughter.

Weaver surrendered to federal officers 11 days after the incident began. He was charged with murder, conspiracy, and assault as well as other crimes. He was acquitted of all charges except for failing to appear in court for the original firearms charge. Weaver was sentenced to 18 months in prison. His family eventually received a total of $3,100,000 in compensation for the killing of his wife and son by federal agents.

Early life

Randy Weaver was born on January 3, 1948 to Clarence and Wilma Weaver, a farming couple in Villisca, Iowa. He was one of four children.[5][6][7] The Weavers were deeply religious and had difficulty finding a denomination that matched their views; they often moved around among Evangelical, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches.[8] After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1966, he attended Iowa Central Community College before dropping out in 1968 after enlisting in the United States Army during the height of the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.[9] In 1970, Weaver returned to his hometown for a visit while on leave.[8]:54 During this leave, he first met his future wife, Victoria, introducing himself as "Pete," rather than his "hated" given name Randall.[8]

Before Ruby Ridge

A month after leaving the Army, Weaver and Victoria Jordison married in a ceremony at the First Congregationalist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in November 1971. Randy attended a semester at the University of Northern Iowa but dropped out after finding well paying work at a local John Deere factory.[8] Vicki worked first as a secretary and then as a homemaker.[10][8]

Partially as a result of the 1978 purchase of The Late Great Planet Earth, the couple began to harbor more fundamentalist beliefs, with Vicki believing that the apocalypse was imminent.[8] To follow Vicki's vision of her family surviving the apocalypse away from what they saw as a corrupt civilization, the Weaver family moved to a 20-acre (8.1-hectare) property in remote Boundary County, Idaho in the early 1980s and built a cabin there.[10] They paid $5,000 in cash and traded their moving truck for the land, valued at $500 an acre.[8]

The Weavers subscribed to the white supremacist and anti-Semitic belief of Christian Identity.[11] Like many Christian Identity adherents, Vicki Weaver developed a set of beliefs following Old Covenant Laws, and the family referred to God as Yahweh.[12] After charges were pressed against her husband, Vicki Weaver wrote to U.S. Attorney Maurice O. Ellsworth, addressing him as "Servant of the Queen of Babylon" and writing, "The stink of your lawless government has reached Heaven, the abode of Yahweh our Yashua,"[13] and, "Whether we live or whether we die, we will not bow to your evil commandments."[11]

On three or four occasions, the Weavers had attended Aryan Nations meetings at Hayden Lake, where there was a compound for government resisters and white nationalists.[12][14]

At the time of the Ruby Ridge incident, the Weavers had four children: Sara, 16; Samuel, 14; Rachel, 10; and Elisheba, 10 months.[10] Vicki homeschooled the children.[10]

Ruby Ridge incident

Ruby Ridge was the site of an 11-day siege in 1992 in Boundary County, Idaho, near Naples. It began on August 21, when deputies of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) initiated action to apprehend and arrest Randy Weaver under a bench warrant after his failure to appear on a firearms charge. Suspecting a conspiracy against him, Weaver chose not to surrender. He remained at his home with his family and friend Kevin Harris. The Hostage Rescue Team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI HRT) became involved as the siege developed.

During the Marshals Service reconnoiter of the Weaver property, six U.S. Marshals encountered Harris and Sammy Weaver, Randy's 14-year-old son, in woods near the family cabin. A shootout took place. U.S. Marshals shot the Weaver's dog Striker, then shot Sammy Weaver in the back as he ran away, killing him. During the firefight, Harris shot Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan in the chest, resulting in Degan's death.

In the subsequent siege of the Weaver residence, led by the FBI, Weaver's wife Vicki was shot and killed by an FBI sniper while standing in her home holding her 10-month-old daughter. Harris was also critically wounded and almost died during the subsequent standoff. Weaver was shot once and was not holding a weapon at the time. All casualties occurred in the first two days of the operation. The siege and standoff were ultimately resolved by civilian negotiator Bo Gritz who was instrumental in getting Weaver to allow Harris to get medical attention. Harris surrendered and was arrested on August 30. Weaver and his three daughters surrendered the next day after being convinced by Gritz that there was no other sensible solution.

Weaver and Harris were subsequently arraigned on a variety of federal criminal charges, including first-degree murder for the death of Degan. Harris was acquitted of all charges. Weaver was acquitted of all charges except for the original bail condition violation for the single firearm charge and for having missed his original court date. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison, credited with time served plus an additional three months, and released after 16 months.[15][8]

During the federal criminal trial of Weaver and Harris, Weaver's attorney Gerry Spence made accusations of "criminal wrongdoing" against the agencies involved in the incident, in particular the FBI, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for Idaho. At the trial's end, the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility formed the Ruby Ridge Task Force (RRTF) to investigate Spence's charges. A redacted HTML version of the RRTF report, publicly released by Lexis Counsel Connect, raised questions about all the participating agencies' conduct and policies. The Justice Department later posted a more complete PDF version of the report.[16][17]

To answer public questions about Ruby Ridge, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held 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 the losses of life at Ruby Ridge and restore public confidence in federal law enforcement.[18] It was noted that the Ruby Ridge incident and the 1993 Waco siege involved many of the same agencies (the FBI, HRT, and the ATF) and some of the same personnel (the FBI HRT commander). The GAO also conducted a review of federal policies about use of deadly force, publishing it in 1995.

Michael Kahoe, the chief of the FBI violent crime section, pled guilty to obstruction of justice for destroying a report critical of the agency's role in at Ruby Ridge. He was sentenced to 18 months and a $4,000 fine.[19]

The Boundary County prosecutor indicted FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter in 1997 before the statute of limitations for the charge could expire; the case, Idaho v. Horiuchi, was moved to federal court, which has jurisdiction over federal agents.[20] It was dismissed because of the Supremacy Clause. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in 2001 that Horiuchi could be tried on state charges. County prosecutor Brett Benson, elected in 2000, dismissed the case, saying it was unlikely the state would be able to prove the criminal charges.[21][22]

Aftermath of the Ruby Ridge incident

Weaver was charged with multiple crimes relating to the Ruby Ridge incident – a total of ten counts, including the original firearms charges. Attorney Gerry Spence handled Weaver's defense, and successfully argued that Weaver's actions were justifiable as self-defense. Spence did not call any witnesses for the defense, rather focusing on attacking the credibility of FBI agents and forensic technicians.[23] The judge dismissed two counts after hearing prosecution witness testimony. The jury acquitted Weaver of all remaining charges except two, one of which the judge set aside. He was found guilty of one count, failure to appear, for which he was fined $10,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was credited with time served plus an additional three months, and was then released. Kevin Harris was acquitted of all criminal charges.[8] Spence later wrote that he took the case against recommendations from peers and friends who thought it would legitimize Weaver's racist beliefs. However, Spence countered that he emphatically rejected Weaver's extremist opinions but took the case because he believed the previously law-abiding Weaver was a victim of government entrapment and further believed the shooting of his wife and child were unconscionable.[23]

In August 1995, the U.S. government avoided trial on a civil lawsuit filed by the Weavers by awarding the three surviving daughters $1,000,000 each, and Randy Weaver $100,000 over the deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver.[24] The attorney for Kevin Harris pressed Harris' civil suit for damages, although federal officials vowed they would never pay someone who had killed a U.S. marshal (Harris had been acquitted by a jury trial on grounds of self-defense). In September 2000, after persistent appeals, Harris was awarded a $380,000 settlement from the government.[8]:392-393

Controversy over the Ruby Ridge Rules of Engagement led to a standardization of deadly force policy among federal law enforcement agencies, implemented in October 1995 after the Ruby Ridge hearings by the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.[25][26]

In 1996, Weaver offered to "help end the standoff between" the Montana Freemen and the FBI, but his offer was declined.[27]

In 1997, the District Attorney for Boundary County, Idaho charged Horiuchi with involuntary manslaughter, but the indictment was removed to federal jurisdiction based on the Supremacy Clause and eventually dismissed at the federal prosecutor's request. Kevin Harris was also charged with the murder of Bill Degan in spite of the fact he had been acquitted on that charge in federal court; that charge was dismissed also based on violation of double jeopardy.[28]

Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of killing 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, cited the Ruby Ridge incident as a contributing factor in his decision to attack the United States federal government.[12]

Later life

Weaver testified about his racial beliefs before a U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee in 1995, saying, "I'm not a hateful racist as most people understand it. But I believe in the separation of races. We wanted to be separated from the rest of the world, to live in a remote area, to give our children a good place to grow up."[2]

In 1998, Weaver published The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge: In Our Own Words, which he partly sold in person at gun shows.[12]

In 1999, Weaver married Linda Gross, a legal secretary, in Jefferson, Iowa.[29]

In 2000, Weaver visited the site of the former Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas, where 76 men, women, and children died when the complex burned to the ground at the end of the Waco siege. A new church was being built at the time of Weaver's visit, and Weaver indicated that he supported the assertion that government agents had deliberately set the complex on fire. The visit was documented by British journalist Jon Ronson in an episode of his five-part documentary, The Secret Rulers of the World titled "The Legend of Ruby Ridge" and his book Them: Adventures with Extremists.

On June 18, 2007, Weaver participated in a press conference with tax protesters Edward and Elaine Brown on the front porch of their home in Plainfield, New Hampshire.[30] He declared: "I ain't afraid of dying no more. I'm curious about the afterlife, and I'm an atheist."[31]

His daughter Sara posted online that her father had died on May 11, 2022 after being sick since at least mid-April. A cause of death was not given.[32][33] He was 74 years old.[34]

Appearance in media

Randy Weaver and the siege at Ruby Ridge have been the focus of several documentaries including the following:

See also


  1. "Ruby Ridge". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 24, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jackson, Robert (September 7, 1995). "Militant Relives Idaho Tragedy for Senators : Probe: Randy Weaver admits Ruby Ridge errors, seeks 'accountability.'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Brokaw, Tom. "Randy Weaver tells his side of the story: Tom Brokaw interviews white separatist". CNN. Retrieved August 24, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. News, A. B. C. "Ruby Ridge siege, 25 years later, a 'rallying cry' for today's white nationalists". ABC News. Retrieved May 13, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pearson, Naomi E. (2019). "Fringe Religion & the Far-Right: Dangerous Behavior Patterns Among Christian Millennialists". Inquiries Journal. Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse LLC. Retrieved March 29, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Randy and Vicki Weaver: From heartland to disaster". nwitimes.com. Hearst Newspapers. August 27, 1995. Retrieved March 30, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "THE INCIDENT AT RUBY RIDGE". Wagner & Lynch Law Firms. April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Walter, Jess (2002). Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family. New York City: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0060007942.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Walter, Jess (May 15, 1996). Every Knee Shall Bow. HarperCollins. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-06-101131-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Hewitt, Bill; Nelson, Margaret (September 25, 1995). "A time to heal". People (magazine).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 Egan, Timothy (August 30, 1992). "THE NATION; Hate Groups Hanging On in Idaho Haven". The New York Times. p. 3. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Hull, Anne (April 30, 2001). "Randy Weaver's Return From Ruby Ridge". The Washington Post. Washington D.C.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Lardner Jr, George; Lei, Richard (September 3, 1995). "Standoff at Ruby Ridge". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 13, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Siegler, Kirk (August 18, 2017). "How What Happened 25 Years Ago At Ruby Ridge Still Matters Today". NPR.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "18 Months in Jail for White Supremacist". The New York Times. October 19, 1993. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. RRTF, Report of the RRTF to the OPR (1994; more complete version), see Bibliography.
  17. RRTF, Report of the RRTF to the OPR (2006) [1994; OPR legacy, highly redacted version, PDF series], see Bibliography.
  18. "Opening Statement of Louis J. Freeh, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation". fas.org. October 19, 1995. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "FBI Agent Gets Prison Term for Destroying Ruby Ridge Report". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 1997.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "F.B.I. Agent to Be Tried In Federal Court". The New York Times. January 13, 1998. Retrieved June 26, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Verhovek, Sam Howe (June 15, 2001). "F.B.I. Agent To Be Spared Prosecution in Shooting". The New York Times. Seattle, WA. Retrieved September 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Idaho v. Horiuchi, 266 (9th Cir. June 5, 2001).
  23. 23.0 23.1 Spence, Gerry (1996). From Freedom to Slavery, the Rebirth of Freedom in America. St. Martin's Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Lardner, George, Jr.; Thomas, Pierre (August 16, 1995). "US will pay family $3.1m for 1992 siege". The Boston Globe.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, Ruby Ridge, 1995.
  26. General Accounting Office, Use of Force, March 1996.
  27. "On day seven of Freemen standoff, outsiders offer help". CNN. March 31, 1996. Retrieved August 2, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Murder Charge Dropped in Agent's Ruby Ridge Death". Los Angeles, California. Associated Press. October 3, 1997.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Randy Weaver remarries, moves back to the Midwest". The Lewiston Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved April 28, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "$1M in Unpaid Taxes: Couple Dares Feds". ABC News. February 9, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Elliott, Philip (June 19, 2017). "Weaver backs fugitives, recalls Ruby Ridge". www.spokesman.com. Retrieved May 12, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Ruby Ridge Standoff: Randy Weaver has died at the age of 74". KULR-8 Local News. Retrieved May 12, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Randy Weaver, man at center of Ruby Ridge standoff, has died". KXLY. May 12, 2022. Retrieved May 12, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Randy Weaver, participant in Ruby Ridge standoff, dies at 74". AP NEWS. May 12, 2022. Retrieved May 13, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "The Siege at Ruby Ridge (TV Movie 1996)". IMDb. Retrieved July 23, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Walter, Jess (1996) [1995]. Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family. New York: HarperPaperbacks. p. 190. ISBN 0-06-101131-2. Retrieved February 7, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The link to this title is to the 1996 edition.
  37. Suprynowicz, Vin (1999). "The Courtesan Press, Eager Lapdogs to Tyranny [Ch. 6]". Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993–1998. Pahrump, NV: Mountain Media. pp. 288–291. ISBN 0-9670259-0-7. Retrieved February 8, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Young, Roger (director), Chetwynd, Lionel (screenwriter) et al. (2007). Standoff at Ruby Ridge. Edgar J. Scherick Associates, Regan Company, Victor Television Productions (producers). Retrieved February 7, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Hale, Mike (February 13, 2017). "'Ruby Ridge' Revisits a 1992 Siege With Current Resonance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 12, 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links