Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge

"SOG" Team Account

The following account is taken in part from the "SOG" teams' unreleased 542-page report, which was later obtained by Lexis Counsel Connect:

When Cooper reached the entrance to the Y, he reportedly saw Randy Weaver coming down the trail from the cabin, approximately 40-feet away from his position behind some brush. When Randy first noticed Cooper, he appeared shocked. At the time, Cooper had assumed that Roderick and Degan were covering Randy and he turned his attention to Harris and the dog, which were still behind him and yelled out, "Back off, U.S. Marshals," fearing that he had been set up for an ambush.

When the dog caught up to Cooper, it began growling and snarling, however Cooper decided not to shoot the dog, as he did not want the killing to invoke a firefight between himself and Harris. After circling Cooper a few times, the dog ran past him and headed towards Roderick's position. Cooper left the trail and dove behind a rock approximately 15 feet behind Degan.

Roderick, who was farther up the Y, saw Randy Weaver running up the trail to the cabin. Weaver was wearing a camouflage jacket and screamed something unintelligible. Roderick yelled, "Stop! U.S. Marshal" at Weaver. Roderick could not tell if Weaver continued up the trail or if he ran into the woods.

Cooper radioed Degan to join him, but Degan failed to respond. He then saw that Harris and Sammy were walking directly in front of Degan. Cooper observed Degan squatting behind a stump, facing up the trail. When Harris and Sammy stepped out into the clearing, about six to ten feet from Degan's position, Cooper assumed they had escaped detection. Regardless, he was taken off guard when Degan unexpectedly raised his weapon and aimed it at Harris and Sammy Weaver. "Stop! U.S. Marshal," Degan yelled out to them. Cooper then stood up from his position and repeated the phrase, however before he could get all the words out of his mouth, Kevin Harris wheeled around and fired at Degan with a 30.06 rifle. Cooper looked over and saw Degan fall back, realizing that his comrade had just been shot. Cooper then fired a three-round burst at Harris with the "suppressed". 9mm. According to Cooper, Harris dropped to the ground "Like a sack of potatoes." Cooper was convinced that Harris was out of commission and then turned his weapon towards Sammy Weaver, but he could not tell if Sammy had a gun, because of trees blocking his view, so he did not shoot at Sammy. Cooper did not realize that Degan had returned any fire before being shot.

Meanwhile, Roderick had moved south down the path. He heard a shot from the direction he had last seen Cooper, Degan, Harris, and Sammy. He was uncertain who had fired the shots, although he thought that it sounded like a heavy caliber weapon. When the first shot was fired, the dog stopped and turned its head back toward the marshals. Concerned that the dog would attack or lead Weaver, Harris, and the others toward the marshals, Roderick shot the dog with his M16 rifle, striking it near the base of the spine. After he shot the dog, Roderick saw Sammy Weaver enter the Y and run up the trail. Sammy called Roderick a, "son of a bitch" and shot two rounds at him. Roderick quickly dove behind a tree.

During this time, Cooper heard two shots and Sammy Weaver yelling "You son of a bitch." He then began taking fire and heard Degan call out, "Coop, I need you." Cooper replied, "As soon as I can get 'em off our ass." Cooper then rose to his feet and fired a second three-round burst in the direction from which he had last received fire, to provide cover as he tried to get to Degan. Following these last shots, Cooper saw Sammy run out of view up the trail to the cabin. Cooper did not think that any of his shots had hit Sammy Weaver.

When Cooper reached Degan's position he realized Degan had been hit once in the chest. He was lying on his left side and within a few brief moments, he lost consciousness and died. Cooper then radioed to Roderick that Degan had been hit and needed help.

 

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