Lon Horiuchi

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Lon Horiuchi
Lon Horiuchi USMA.png
Horiuchi during his tenure at the USMA
Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi

(1954-06-09) June 9, 1954 (age 68)
Hawaii, U.S.
Alma materU.S. Military Academy (1976)
Organization(s) FBI Hostage Rescue Team (1984–2014)
 United States Army (1976–1984)
Known forRuby Ridge, Waco controversies

Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi (born June 9, 1954) is an American former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) sniper and former United States Army officer who was involved in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for killing Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, but the charges were later dropped.

Early life and education[edit]

Horiuchi was born on June 9, 1954, in Hawaii as the son of a U.S. Army officer. He later attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated in 1976. He served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Afterwards he joined the FBI, and by 1999 had been an FBI agent for at least 15 years.[1]

Ruby Ridge[edit]

In 1992, while working at sniper position Sierra 4 for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team at Ruby Ridge, Horiuchi shot and killed an unarmed Vicki Weaver who was holding her infant and also wounded her husband, Randy Weaver, and family friend Kevin Harris.[2]

After his first shot hit and wounded Randy Weaver, Horiuchi fired a second shot at Kevin Harris, who was armed, some 20 seconds later as Harris was running into the Weaver home. The bullet fired at Harris struck and killed Vicki Weaver through the doorway just beyond Harris, who was entering the home. Weaver was holding her 10-month-old child behind the door through which Harris was attempting to enter;[2][3] the round also struck and wounded Harris.[4]

Following the conclusion of the trial of Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris in 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) created a "Ruby Ridge Task Force" to investigate allegations made by Weaver's defense attorney Gerry Spence. On June 10, 1994, the Task Force delivered its 542-page report to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. The Report stated: "With regard to the two shots fired on August 22, we concluded that the first shot met the standard of 'objective reasonableness' the Constitution requires for the legal use of deadly force but that the second shot did not satisfy that standard."[5]

The surviving members of the Weaver family received $3.1 million in 1995 to settle their civil suit brought against the U.S. government for wrongful deaths of Vicki Weaver and 14-year-old Samuel Weaver, who was killed the day before during an encounter with U.S. Marshals. In the out-of-court settlement, the government did not admit any wrongdoing. In a separate suit, Harris received a $380,000 settlement from the U.S. government in 2000.[6]

Manslaughter charge[edit]

In 1997, Boundary County, Idaho Prosecutor Denise Woodbury, with the help of special prosecutor Stephen Yagman, charged Horiuchi in state court with involuntary manslaughter over his killing of Vicki Weaver. The U.S. Attorney filed a notice of removal of the case to federal court, which automatically took effect under the statute for removal jurisdiction[7] where the case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge on May 14, 1998, who cited the supremacy clause of the Constitution which grants immunity to federal officers acting in the scope of their employment.[2]

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.[2] 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."[8]

The Ninth Circuit granted Boundary County's motion to dismiss the case against Horiuchi on September 14, 2001.[9]


On September 13, 1993, Charles Riley, a fellow FBI sniper deployed during the Waco Siege claimed that he had heard Horiuchi shooting from "Sierra One", an FBI-held house in front of the compound holding eight snipers, including Horiuchi and Christopher Curran, on April 19, 1993. Riley later retracted his statement, saying that he had been misquoted, and that he had only heard snipers at Sierra One announce that shots had been fired by Branch Davidians. Riley later clarified that he had heard a radio report from Sierra One that someone at that position had witnessed gunfire from within the compound.[10]

The Committee on Government reform notes that "There is no evidence that HRT snipers stationed at a house (designated the Sierra One sniper position) across the Double EE Ranch Road from the compound fired shots on April 19, 1993."[11]

Three of the twelve expended .308 Winchester[clarification needed] casings that the Texas Rangers reported finding in the house were at Horiuchi's position. However, officials maintain that they were left behind from the earlier use of the house by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives snipers on February 28, 1993. The recovered casings at the house were tested and identified by the Texas Rangers and the Office of Special Counsel matched them to weapons used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on February 28, 1993 and not those used by the FBI.[12]

For the five months following the Waco inferno, Timothy McVeigh worked at gun shows and handed out free cards printed with Horiuchi's name and address, "in the hope that somebody in the Patriot movement would assassinate the sharpshooter". He wrote hate mail to the sniper, suggesting that "what goes around, comes around". McVeigh considered targeting Horiuchi, or a member of his family, before settling on a bombing attack on a federal building, choosing to target the Murrah Building.[13]


  1. ^ "U.S. News: The FBI agent at the center of the Waco investigation (11/8/99)". Archived from the original on April 7, 2001. Retrieved August 22, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Idaho v. Horiuchi, 253 F.3d 359 (9th Cir. 2001) (Kozinski, J.).
  3. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (June 6, 2001). "F.B.I. Agent Can Be Charged In Idaho Siege, Court Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  4. ^ Witkin, Gordon (September 11, 1995). "The nightmare of Idaho's Ruby Ridge". U.S. News & World Report.
  5. ^ Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, June 10, 1994, under I. Executive Summary, B. Significant findings.
  6. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, 2000.
  7. ^ "F.B.I. Agent to Be Tried In Federal Court". The New York Times. January 13, 1998. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  8. ^ Verhovek, Sam Howe (June 15, 2001). "F.B.I. Agent To Be Spared Prosecution in Shooting". New York Times. Seattle, WA. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  9. ^ Idaho v. Horiuchi, 266 F.3d 979 (9th Cir. September 14, 2001).
  10. ^ "House Report 106-1037 - The Tragedy at Waco: New Evidence Examined". Gpo.gov. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "House Report 106-1037 - THE TRAGEDY AT WACO: NEW EVIDENCE EXAMINED".
  12. ^ "House Report 106-1037 - THE TRAGEDY AT WACO: NEW EVIDENCE EXAMINED".
  13. ^ Michel, Lou and Herbeck, Dan. "American Terrorist". Pages 164, 200, 233. (2002 paperback edition)