20 Years Ago Today, The Government Murdered Some ‘Domestic Terrorists’
Ruby Ridge, Idaho --(Ammoland.com)- Today is the anniversary of “The Siege at Ruby Ridge” where agents of the government, specifically the ATF and the FBI, participated in the murder of American Citizens that held unpopular views, what today is called by Janet Napolitano’s Dept of Homeland Security “potential domestic terrorists”.
The Agents main target was Randy Weaver and his family, white separatists who had moved to an isolated mountaintop retreat they owned in Idaho. Randy Weaver was a former US Army Combat Engineer, who served his Country honorably. Through extremely loose “associations” Randy had attended a couple of meetings of a local Aryan Nation meeting, at the insistence of a friend, but found their views to extreme for his liking and had no further contact with them.
In 1984, Randy Weaver and neighbor Terry Kinnison had a dispute over a $3,000 land deal. Kinnison subsequently lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay Weaver an additional $2,100 in court costs and damages. Kinnison wrote letters to the FBI, Secret Service, and county sheriff alleging Weaver had threatened to kill the Pope, the President, and John V. Evans, governor of Idaho. In January 1985, the FBI and the Secret Service started an investigation. In February, Randy and Vicki Weaver met with two FBI agents, two Secret Service agents, and the Boundary County sheriff and his chief investigator and were interviewed for hours.
The Secret Service was told that Weaver was a member of the Aryan Nations and that he had a large weapons cache at his residence, Weaver denied the allegations and no charges were filed.
The investigation noted Weaver associated with Frank Kumnick, who was known to associate with members of the Aryan Nations. Weaver told the investigators that neither he nor Kumnick were members of Aryan Nations, and described Kumnick as “associated with the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord.” On February 28, 1985 Randy and Vicki Weaver filed an affidavit with the county courthouse alleging that their personal enemies were plotting to provoke the FBI into attacking and killing the Weaver family. On May 6, 1985 Randy and Vicki Weaver sent a letter to President Ronald Reagan claiming that Weaver’s enemies may have sent the President a threatening letter under a forged signature. No evidence of a threatening letter has surfaced; however, the 1985 letter was cited by the prosecutor in 1992 as Overt Act 7 of the Weaver family conspiracy against the federal government
Around the same time, the FBI was actively seeking an informant that could penetrate such organizations in a confidential informant capacity and thought they found their man in Weaver. They approached him seeking his help and participation, which he rejected outright. The Feds, not taking to kindly to Weaver’s rejection of their overture’s moved onto another target, an acquaintance of Weaver’s. The Feds wanted Weaver on the inside and were determined to engineer a way to get him to co-operate. Weaver’s friend incessantly harassed Weaver with requests for assistance regarding some work on a shotgun he owned, finally wearing Weaver down with his relentless requests and convinced Weaver to cut the barrel of the shotgun to less then 1/4 of an inch below the Federal minimum length of 18 inches.
The friend then went to the Feds with this evidence and handed Weaver to them on a silver platter. The Feds would proceed to renew and ramp up their pressure on Weaver to help them by holding this technical violation of a Federal Weapons Law over his head as coercion, even resorting to changing the date of an initial hearing on the matter, then intentionally withholding the fact that the date had been changed from Weaver and his attorney in order to engineer a “failure to appear” charge against Weaver, thus providing the cover they needed to execute a Warrant to arrest Weaver on a charge the Feds themselves set out to bring about.
What resulted next was a stand off at the mountain top home of the Weavers and Agents of the FBI and ATF.
During that standoff , as the days wore on, Samuel Weaver, Randy’s 14 year old son and Kevin Harris, a family friend who was also residing at the hilltop retreat were in the woods in the vicinity of the cabin walking the family dog, Striker when the animal alerted on the concealed position of an observation team of armed Federal Agents. One of the Agents fired, killing the non aggressive family pet and triggered a very brief shootout in which Kevin Harris was injured and 14 year old Sam Weaver was shot in the back and killed. After the shooting subsided, the Agents retreated from their position, the Weaver family used this opportunity to retrieve the body of their now dead child, placing it in a shed on the property.
Later in the day, the family made their way to the shed where their dead child was to visit and grieve and prepare to bury him. Unbeknownst to them, FBI HRT Sniper Lon Horiuchi lay in a place of concealment 200 yards away had them in his rifle sights. Operating under what was later described as “ shoot on sight “ rules of engagement, Horicuhi fired, striking Randy Weaver in the arm.
The Ruby Ridge Rules of Engagement (ROE) had been drawn up on the basis of reports from USMS and FBI headquarters, bolstered by unconfirmed news media accounts accepted by HQ, that exaggerated the threat posed by the Weavers.
- If any adult male is observed with a weapon prior to the announcement, deadly force can and should be employed, if the shot can be taken without endangering any children.
- If any adult in the compound is observed with a weapon after the surrender announcement is made, and is not attempting to surrender, deadly force can and should be employed to neutralize the individual.
- If compromised by any animal, particularly the dogs, that animal should be eliminated.
- Any subjects other than Randall Weaver, Vicki Weaver, Kevin Harris, presenting threats of death or grievous bodily harm, the FBI rules of deadly force are in effect. Deadly force can be utilized to prevent the death or grievous bodily injury to oneself or that of another.
Standard deadly force policy of the FBI was: “Agents are not to use deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or the defense of another, when they have reason to believe they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Whenever feasible, verbal warning should be given before deadly force is applied.”
Under the Ruby Ridge ROE 3 and 4, the Weaver dogs, the Weaver children and third parties were subject to the standard deadly force policy and could only be shot in self-defense if they presented a danger of death or grievous bodily harm. However, under the Ruby Ridge ROE 1 and 2, deadly force against the Weaver adults should be used without the justification of defense and without any verbal warning.
The Denver FBI SWAT team assigned to Ruby Ridge thought the ROE were “crazy” and agreed among themselves to follow the FBI deadly force policy. However, most of the FBI HRT sniper/observers accepted the ROE as modifying the deadly force policy. Examples: HRT sniper Dale Monroe saw the ROE as a “green light” to shoot armed adult males on sight and HRT sniper Edward Wenger believed that if he observed armed adults, he could use deadly force, but he was to follow standard deadly force policy for all other individuals. Fred Lanceley, the FBI Hostage Negotiator at Ruby Ridge, was “surprised and shocked” at the ROE, the most severe rules he had ever heard in his over 300 hostage situations and characterized the ROE as inconsistent with standard policy. A later Senate report criticized the ROE as “virtual shoot-on-sight orders.”
As Randy Weaver, Kevin Harris and Weaver’s 16 year old daughter Sara ran for the safety of their cabin after the first shot, Horiuchi fired again, striking and instantly killing Randy Weaver’s wife in the head while she was unarmed and holding their infant daughter Elisheba.
The Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility Ruby Ridge Task Force Report (June 10, 1994) stated in section I. Executive Summary subhead B. Significant Findings that the second shot did not satisfy constitutional standards for legal use of deadly force. The OPR review also found the lack of a request to surrender was “inexcusable“, since Harris and the two Weavers were running for cover without returning fire and were not an imminent threat. The task force also specifically blamed Horiuchi for firing through the door, not knowing whether someone was on the other side of it. While controversy exists as to who is responsible for approving the ROE that were being followed by the sniper, the task force also condemned the so-called “rules of engagement” allowing shots to be fired with no request for surrender.
Both FBI HQ and the Site Commanders in Idaho re-evaluated the situation based on information they were receiving from US Marshals Hunt, Cooper and Roderick about what had happened on August 21. On about August 24, 1992, the fourth day of the siege on the Weaver family, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson wrote a memo:
Something to Consider
- Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.
- No one saw Weaver do any shooting.
- Vicki has no charges against her.
- Weaver’s defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was barking at. Some guys in camys shot his dog. Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the shooting [of Degan]. He [Weaver] is in pretty strong legal position.”
Pay particular attention to the first line of that memo written by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Coulson.
” The charge against Weaver is Bull Shit “
Meanwhile a child and a mother of a family that held unpopular views and in all likelyhood were in fact framed on at least some level because of those views were dead. Killed by Agents of the Federal Government.
FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi was indicted for manslaughter in 1997 by the Boundary County, Idaho prosecutor just prior to expiration of the statute of limitations for the crime of manslaughter, but the trial was removed to federal court and was quickly dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity. 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. 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.”
Kevin Harris was also indicted for the first-degree murder of DUSM Bill Degan; the charge was dismissed on grounds of double jeopardy because he had been acquitted in the federal criminal trial on the same charge in 1993.
Randy and Sara Weaver wrote a 1998 paperback book, The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge, about the incident (the appendix of the book is a reprint of the 1995 Report on the U.S. Senate Ruby Ridge Hearing).
Interestingly enough, FBI Sniper Horiuchi and several others intimately involved in the Siege at Ruby Ridge were involved in yet another instance of the Federal Government “making an example of people”, the made for TV assault on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco Texas, under even more suspicious circumstances then those at Ruby Ridge. But thats for another article.
Remember these cases and others whenever people insist that the Government is only looking out for our own good and safety and would only hurt people under the most righteous of circumstances and only when all other options have been exhausted.
About Dan RobertsDan Roberts is a grassroots supporter of gun rights that has choosen AmmoLand Shooting Sports News as the perfect outlet for his frank, ‘Jersey Attitude’ filled articles on Guns and Gun Owner Rights.As a resident of the oppressive state of New Jersey he is well placed to be able to discuss the abuses of government against our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms as he writes from deep behind NJ’s Anti-Gun iron curtain. Read more from Dan Roberts or email him at DRoberts@ammoland.com
Remember these cases and others whenever people insist that the Government is only looking out for our own good and safety and would only hurt people under the most righteous of circumstances…