Randy Weaver

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Randy Weaver
BornJanuary 3, 1948 (age 72)
EducationUniversity of Northern Iowa (dropped out)
Known forRuby Ridge
Spouse(s)Vicki Weaver (1971–1992, her death), Linda Gross (1999-?)
Children4 (1 deceased)

Randall Claude "Randy" Weaver (born January 3, 1948)[1] is a former American Green Beret known for his role in the Ruby Ridge standoff near Naples, Idaho, in 1992.[2][3][4] Weaver, his family, and a friend named Kevin Harris were involved in the siege with U.S. Marshals and FBI agents. Weaver’s wife, Vicki, his 14-year-old son Sammy, and U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed during the standoff.

Weaver surrendered to federal officers 11 days after the incident began. He was charged with murder, conspiracy, and assault as well as other crimes and acquitted of all charges except for failing to appear 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[edit]

Weaver was one of four children born to Clarence and Wilma Weaver, a farming couple in Villisca, Iowa.[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. Weaver earned average grades in school and played baseball and football in high school. He professed his faith in Jesus Christ at age 11; however, at a 2007 news conference for Edward and Elaine Brown he stated: "I ain't afraid of dying no more. I'm curious about the afterlife, and I'm an atheist."[8]

Military training[edit]

At age 20, Weaver dropped out of community college and joined the United States Army in October 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.[9] In 1970, Weaver secured a temporary leave from Fort Bragg and returned to his hometown for a visit.[10] In October 1971, following three years of duty, Weaver received an honorable discharge from the Army.[citation needed]

Before Ruby Ridge[edit]

A month after leaving the Army, Weaver and Victoria Jordison married in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa in 1971. In an attempt to impress Vicki's family, the couple arranged for two ministers to conduct the ceremony: a minister from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and a Congregationalist pastor.[citation needed]

After Randy and Vicki wed, Randy enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa to study criminal justice, and wanted to become an FBI agent. Weaver dropped out, however, because the tuition was too expensive.[citation needed]

Randy found work at a local John Deere factory. Vicki worked first as a secretary and then as a homemaker.[11]

The Weavers subscribed to racial beliefs of “Christian Identity”, which holds that white people are the lost tribe of Israel.[12] Vicki Weaver developed a set of beliefs following Old Covenant Laws, and the family referred to God as, "Yahweh." Because Weaver considered a woman having a child to be unclean, she gave birth to her fourth child in a shed behind the family's cabin on Ruby Ridge. 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," and, "Whether we live or whether we die, we will not bow to your evil commandments."[13]

On three or four occasions, the Weavers attended Aryan Nations meetings up at Hayden Lake, a compound for government resisters and white separatists.[12][14]

The couple began to harbor more fundamentalist beliefs, with Vicki believing that the Apocalypse was imminent.[15] To follow Vicki's vision of her family surviving the apocalypse away from "corrupt civilization", the Weaver family moved to a 20-acre (8.1-hectare) property in remote Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in the early 1980s and built a cabin there.[11] They paid $5,000 in cash and traded their moving truck for the land, valued at $500 an acre.[16]

At the time of the Ruby Ridge incident, the Weavers had four children: Sara, 16; Samuel, 14; Rachel, 10; and Elisheba, 10 months.[11] Vicki homeschooled the children.[11]

Ruby Ridge incident[edit]

Believing that he attended the Aryan Nations church and Aryan Nations World Congresses, the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI interviewed Weaver and his wife in 1985. Weaver denied belonging to the Aryan Nations, and the couple cited differences in religious beliefs between themselves and the group.

Weaver was approached by ATF informant Kenneth Faderley (posing as a biker named Gus Magisono) who was investigating Weaver's friend Frank Kumnick.[citation needed] In 1989, Weaver supplied two modified shotguns to Faderley. While the ATF maintained that the weapons supplied by Weaver were illegally shortened when Faderley received them, Weaver has claimed otherwise. The DOJ Ruby Ridge Task Force Report (1994) records that Faderley stated Weaver showed him an unaltered shotgun and Faderley pointed out where he wanted Weaver to cut the gun. The ATF wanted to use Weaver to introduce Faderley to Charles Howarth who was starting a group in Montana, after which the ATF intended to drop the Kumnick and Weaver investigations. Weaver refused to take Faderley to Montana in November 1989 and Faderley was told by his handlers to have no further contact with Weaver.[citation needed]

Weaver was then approached by ATF agents and told that they had evidence of his possession and sale of illegal weapons, and offered to drop the charges in return for his co-operation in infiltrating the Aryan Nations. Weaver refused. He was initially arrested by ATF agents on charges[11] relating to transfer of a short-barreled shotgun without a license in January 1991. This was compounded by Weaver's failure to appear in court to answer these charges.[citation needed] Weaver's original court date was Feb. 19 1991; it was changed to the following day, but Pretrial Services sent Weaver a notice citing the date as March 20. As a result, Weaver missed the hearing and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, with the U.S. Marshals Service directed to serve it. The U.S. Marshals Service wanted to allow Weaver the opportunity to appear in court on March 20, but the U.S. Attorneys Office sought a grand jury indictment on March 14 for Weaver's failure to appear. This convinced Randy and Vicki Weaver that he had no chance of a fair hearing.[17] During the March 1991 to August 1992 standoff, Weaver isolated himself on his property and became increasingly suspicious of the federal government, vowing to fight rather than surrender peacefully. A plan for voluntary surrender was negotiated by the Marshals Service with the Weavers during October 1991, but was refused by the U.S. Attorney involved in the case.

After long-term surveillance, the deputy director of the Special Operations Group of the Marshals Service recommended against a tactical assault on the Weaver residence. He recommended that the indictment be dismissed and then refiled later under seal, so that Weaver would be unaware of the new indictment, in hope of causing him to drop his guard. An undercover operation could then be executed to arrest Weaver without incident. His recommendation was rejected.

On August 21, 1992, several U.S. Marshals went to the Weaver property to clandestinely survey it; they hoped to update their information about the property since it had last been surveyed in May 1992. The group had strict orders that they were to avoid all contact with the Weaver family. According to a Department of Justice report on the incident,[18] the marshals were detected by the Weavers' dogs and began to retreat.[19] Weaver's 14-year-old son Sammy and 24-year-old family friend Kevin Harris,[11] left the house to investigate, both carrying firearms. The DOJ report corroborates this with a statement dictated by Weaver to his daughter, in which he says that "Approximately 11:30 Friday morning....the dogs started barking like they always do when strangers walk up the driveway. Kevin, and Sam ran out to the rock with their weapons." Eventually, the Marshals stopped retreating and took up defensive positions in the woods.

The sequence of events during the ensuing shootout is disputed, with Weaver and Harris saying that the camouflaged marshals fired first[11] and did not identify themselves. The marshals' version of events is when they were rising to identify themselves, they were fired on first by Sammy and Harris.[11][19] In another version of events, the Weavers' dog, Striker, was shot as he exposed a hiding Bill Degan. Sammy Weaver then shot Bill Degan in retaliation. While running away, Sammy was then shot in the back by a dying Bill Degan and/or other federal agents.[20] Both died. After this, the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) was called in to assist with the situation. Much controversy was later generated by the fact that, after the first day's events, the FBI had changed its usual rules of engagement; specifically, "deadly force can and should be used against any armed adult male if the shot could be taken without a child being injured."[21] No request for surrender or announcement of officials' presence would be needed to shoot.[19][20]

The next day, August 22, 1992, HRT sniper/observer teams were deployed on the north ridge overlooking the cabin. Randy Weaver, Harris, and Weaver's 16-year-old daughter Sara were seen outside the cabin. Weaver went to view the body of Sammy Weaver,[19] which had been placed in a shed after being recovered the previous day. Weaver's back was to FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi, who aimed to sever Weaver's spine for an instant kill. Weaver moved at the last second as Horiuchi fired, and the bullet entered Weaver's right shoulder and exited through his armpit.[22] As the three ran back to the house, Horiuchi fired again at Kevin Harris as he ran away, but this time hit Weaver's wife Vicki in the head as she held their 10-month-old daughter Elishiba at the door.[23] Vicki Weaver collapsed on the floor, dying instantly. Harris was hit in the chest by the same bullet. A Justice Department review later found this second shot was out of policy and the lack of a request to surrender was "inexcusable", since Harris and the two Weavers were running for cover and did not pose an imminent threat. The task force also specifically blamed Horiuchi for firing at the door, not knowing whether someone was on the other side of it, and criticized those who had decided on the special rules of engagement allowing shots to be fired with no previous request for surrender.[19] Much later, a robot vehicle approached the cabin and announced the presence of law enforcement.[24] According to the Weavers, this was the first announcement of the source of the violence.[25]

A stand-off ensued for 10 days as several hundred federal agents surrounded the house, in which Weaver and his three surviving children remained with Harris and the body of Vicki Weaver, under a blood-soaked blanket.[11] During the stand-off, the government force, which numbered 350 to 400 men, named their temporary camp "Camp Vicki".[26] The negotiators, who later claimed they did not know Vicki was dead, would call out in the morning 'Vicki, we have blueberry pancakes.' To Sara Weaver inside with her mother's body, they were deliberately taunting the survivors.[27][28][29] A vigil was maintained at the Ruby Creek Bridge by protesters who believed the government actions were heavy-handed. James "Bo" Gritz, then a third-party presidential candidate who had formerly been Weaver's commanding officer during the Vietnam War[30], served as a mediator between Weaver and the government. After well-known radio broadcaster Paul Harvey publicly intervened and assured Randy Weaver that he would pay for an excellent defense attorney, Weaver eventually elected to abandon the stand-off and surrender.[citation needed]

Aftermath of the Ruby Ridge incident[edit]

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.[31] 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. Weaver was found guilty of one count, failure to appear, for which Weaver 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.[32] 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 Weaver's wife and child were unconscionable.[33]

In August 1995, the US 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.[34] 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.[35]

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 Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, Senate Committee on the Judiciary.[36][37]

In 1996, Weaver offered to "help end the standoff between" the Montana Freemen and the FBI, but his offer was declined.[38]

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 clause.[39]

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.[40]

Later life[edit]

Weaver testified about his racial beliefs before a Senate 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.”[13][41]

In 1999, Weaver married Linda Gross, a legal secretary, in Jefferson, Iowa.[42]

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 burnt to the ground during 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, Secret Rulers of the World titled "The Legend of Ruby Ridge" and his book Them: Adventures with Extremists.[29]

On June 18, 2007 Weaver participated in a press conference with tax protesters Edward and Elaine Brown at their home in Plainfield, New Hampshire.[43][44]

Documentaries[edit]

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

  • PBS American Experience: "Ruby Ridge", episode S29E07, February 14, 2017.
  • "American Standoff," Retro Report / New York Times, October 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, Produced by KPOC-TV 1995; VHS tape distributed by The FOREND Times, Inc.
  • 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.
  • PBS American Experience: "Oklahoma City", 2017.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Great Lives from History: Notorious Lives. Three volumes. Edited by Carl L. Bankston III. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2007.
  2. ^ "Ruby Ridge". ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  3. ^ Jackson, Robert (September 7, 1995). "Militant Relives Idaho Tragedy for Senators : Probe: Randy Weaver admits Ruby Ridge errors, seeks 'accountability.'". LA Times. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  4. ^ Brokaw, Tom. "Randy Weaver tells his side of the story: Tom Brokaw interviews white separatist". CNN. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  5. ^ Pearson, Naomi E. (2019). "Fringe Religion & the Far-Right: Dangerous Behavior Patterns Among Christian Millennialists". Inquiries Journal. Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse LLC. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  6. ^ "Randy and Vicki Weaver: From heartland to disaster". nwitimes.com. Hearst Newspapers. 1995-08-27. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  7. ^ "THE INCIDENT AT RUBY RIDGE". Wagner & Lynch Law Firms. 2015-04-25. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  8. ^ "Ruby Ridge leader visits Browns, warns of increased provocation". Associated Press. June 18, 2007. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  9. ^ Walter, Jess (15 May 1996). Every Knee Shall Bow. HarperCollins. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-06-101131-3.
  10. ^ Walter, Jess (2012). Ruby Ridge. HarperCollins. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-06-195985-1.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hewitt, Bill (1995-09-25). "A time to heal". People Weekly.
  12. ^ a b Egan, Timothy. “https://Www.nytimes.com/1992/08/30/Weekinreview/the-Nation-Hate-Groups-Hanging-on-in-Idaho-Haven.html.” The New York Times, 30 Aug. 1992, p. 3.
  13. ^ a b Hull, Anne. “Randy Weaver's Return From Ruby Ridge.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Apr. 2001, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/04/30/randy-weavers-return-from-ruby-ridge/946b58c3-2d46-4df0-9b06-f5ca7c562d09/?noredirect=on.
  14. ^ Siegler, Kirk. “How What Happened 25 Years Ago At Ruby Ridge Still Matters Today.” NPR, 18 Aug. 2017.
  15. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, pp. 30, 34, 38.
  16. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, p. 54.
  17. ^ Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, Ruby Ridge Task Force Report, 1994.
  18. ^ Ruby Ridge Task Force, Department of Justice Report on Internal Review Regarding the Ruby Ridge Hostage Situation and Shootings by Law Enforcement Personnel, US Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility, June 10, 1994. Made publicly available by Lexis Counsel Connect.
  19. ^ a b c d e Witkin, Gordon (1995-09-11). "The nightmare of Idaho's Ruby Ridge". US News & World Report.
  20. ^ a b Jess Walter, Every Knee Shall Bow, ReganBooks, 1995.
  21. ^ Wiener, Tim (1997-08-16). "U.S. Will Bring No More Criminal Charges Against F.B.I. Officials in Ruby Ridge Siege". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-26.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ Jess Walter, Every Knee Shall Bow, (Harper Collins, 1995), p. 196.
  23. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (2001-06-06). "F.B.I. Agent Can Be Charged In Idaho Siege, Court Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  24. ^ Dobratz, Betty A.; Shanks-Meile, Stephanie L. (1997). The White Separatist Movement in the United States: "White Power, White Pride!". JHU Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-8018-6537-4.
  25. ^ Bock, Alan W. (1995). Ambush at Ruby Ridge: How Government Agents Set Randy Weaver Up and Took His Family Down. Dickens Press. pp. 78–82. ISBN 978-1-880741-48-1.
  26. ^ Alan W. Bock, Ambush at Ruby Ridge, Diane Books, 1998.
  27. ^ Randy and Sara Weaver, The Federal Siege At Ruby Ridge: In Our Own Words, Ruby Ridge Inc., 1998.
  28. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, Regan Books, 2002.
  29. ^ a b Ronson, Jon (2001). THEM – Adventures With Extremists.
  30. ^ R.A. Burke, Counter-terrorism for emergency responders", CRC Press, 2017, p. 27
  31. ^ Spence, Gerry (1996). From Freedom to Slavery, the Rebirth of Freedom in America. St. Martin's Press.
  32. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.
  33. ^ Spence, 1996
  34. ^ Lardner Jr, George; Thomas, Pierre (1995-08-16). "US will pay family $3.1m for 1992 siege". The Boston Globe.
  35. ^ Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge, ReganBooks, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, pp. 392–393.
  36. ^ Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, Ruby Ridge, 1995.
  37. ^ General Accounting Office, Use of Force, March 1996.
  38. ^ "On day seven of Freemen standoff, outsiders offer help – March 31, 1996". CNN. 1996-03-31. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  39. ^ Murder Charge Dropped in Agent’s Ruby Ridge Death, Associated Press, 1997.
  40. ^ McVeigh Vents On '60 Minutes', CBS, 2009.
  41. ^ Jackson, Robert (September 7, 1995). "Militant Relives Idaho Tragedy for Senators : Probe: Randy Weaver admits Ruby Ridge errors, seeks 'accountability.'". LA Times. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  42. ^ Press, Associated. "Randy Weaver remarries, moves back to the Midwest". The Lewiston Tribune. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  43. ^ "$1M in Unpaid Taxes: Couple Dares Feds". ABC News. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  44. ^ CNN http://beta.cnn.com/2007/US/06/21/tax.evaders.ap/. Missing or empty |title= (help)[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]