Randy Weaver

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Randy Weaver
Born (1948-01-03) January 3, 1948 (age 73)
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 U.S. Army engineer 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 engaged in an armed standoff with U.S. Marshals and FBI 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. Weaver was acquitted of all charges except for failing to appear in court for the original firearms charge (for which he was also found not guilty). 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]

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. 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 the belief 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 had attended Aryan Nations meetings at Hayden Lake, where there was a compound for government resistors 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]

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. Given three conflicting dates for his court appearance, and 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 injured 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.[17][18]

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 USMS, 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.[19][20]

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.[21] 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.

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.[22] 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. But a new county prosecutor, Brett Benson, had been elected in 2000 and dismissed the case, saying it was unlikely the state would be able to prove the criminal charges. His decision was controversial.[23][24]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30][31]

In 1996, Weaver offered to "help end the standoff between" the Montana Freemen and the FBI, but his offer was declined.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34]

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][35]

In 1999, Weaver married Linda Gross, a legal secretary, in Jefferson, Iowa.[36]

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.

On June 18, 2007 Weaver participated in a press conference with tax protesters Edward and Elaine Brown at their home in Plainfield, New Hampshire.[37]

Documentaries and fiction[edit]

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

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 Hewitt, Bill (September 25, 1995). "A time to heal". People.
  12. ^ a b 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.
  13. ^ a b Hull, Anne (April 30, 2001). "Randy Weaver's Return From Ruby Ridge". The Washington Post. Washington D.C.: Washington Post Company.
  14. ^ Siegler, Kirk (August 18, 2017). "How What Happened 25 Years Ago At Ruby Ridge Still Matters Today". NPR. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  15. ^ Walter, Jess (2002). Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family. New York City: HarperCollins. pp. 30, 34, 38. ISBN 978-0060007942.
  16. ^ Walter, p. 54
  17. ^ "18 Months in Jail for White Supremacist". The New York Times. October 19, 1993. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  18. ^ Walter, Jess (2002). Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family (1st trade pbk. ed.). New York: ReganBooks. ISBN 978-0060007942.
  19. ^ RRTF, Report of the RRTF to the OPR (1994; more complete version), see Bibliography.
  20. ^ RRTF, Report of the RRTF to the OPR (2006) [1994; OPR legacy, highly redacted version, PDF series], see Bibliography.
  21. ^ "Opening Statement of Louis J. Freeh, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation". fas.org. October 19, 1995. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "F.B.I. Agent to Be Tried In Federal Court". The New York Times. January 13, 1998. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Idaho v. Horiuchi, 266 (9th Cir. June 5, 2001).
  25. ^ Spence, Gerry (1996). From Freedom to Slavery, the Rebirth of Freedom in America. St. Martin's Press.
  26. ^ Walter, Ruby Ridge, 2002.
  27. ^ Spence, 1996
  28. ^ Lardner, George, Jr.; Thomas, Pierre (August 16, 1995). "US will pay family $3.1m for 1992 siege". The Boston Globe.
  29. ^ Walter, pp. 392–393
  30. ^ Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, Ruby Ridge, 1995.
  31. ^ General Accounting Office, Use of Force, March 1996.
  32. ^ "On day seven of Freemen standoff, outsiders offer help". CNN. March 31, 1996. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  33. ^ "Murder Charge Dropped in Agent's Ruby Ridge Death". Los Angeles, California. Associated Press. October 3, 1997.
  34. ^ Hull, Anne (April 30, 2001). "Randy Weaver's Return From Ruby Ridge". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ "Randy Weaver remarries, moves back to the Midwest". The Lewiston Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  37. ^ "$1M in Unpaid Taxes: Couple Dares Feds". ABC News. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  38. ^ "The Siege at Ruby Ridge (TV Movie 1996)". imdb. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  39. ^ 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. The link to this title is to the 1996 edition.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ 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.

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