Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge

Pinned Down

Boundary County Sheriff's Department (David Lohr)
Boundary County Sheriff's Department
(David Lohr)

Shortly after the initial gunfight, the "SOG" team heard a tremendous discharge of gunshots on the trail to the Weaver house, followed by the sound of male and female voices wailing. The marshals also heard a woman shout, "Yahweh;" a man yell, "You son of a bitch," and others scream, "You tried to kill my daddy." Roderick, Cooper, and Norris waited in the brush with Degan's body, while Hunt and Norris left for help at approximately10:45 a.m. Roderick maintained radio contact with Hunt and Norris as they made their way down the mountain and informed them on several occasions that they were pinned down under heavy gunfire. It took Hunt and Norris nearly an hour to make their way down the mountain to the closest neighbor. Hunt immediately placed a call to the Boundary County Sheriff's Office and told the dispatcher: "I have an emergency situation on my hands...I got one officer dead. I got (inaudible) pinned down. I need help quick...I want the State Police, I want all the help that I can get. I gotta go back in for more officers that are trapped."

Boundary County Line (David Lohr)
Boundary County Line
(David Lohr)

Following the call, Hunt contacted the Marshals Service Headquarters in Washington, DC and told Tony Perez, Chief of Enforcement Operations, that before the shooting began, a dog had picked up the marshals' scent and that they had run to avoid a confrontation. Hunt then spoke of a "heck of a gunfight," which resulted in Harris killing Degan. Upon learning of the firefight on Ruby Ridge, the Marshals Service "Crisis Center" was activated under the direction of Deputy Director of Operations Duke Smith. At 12:05 p.m. Hunt called the Crisis Center and reported, "Local sheriff has SWAT team on the way to the scene...team was trying to pull out when Weavers' dog alerted, team drew multiple volleys of fire from the house. Degan was struck in the chest. Return fire killed one of Weavers' dogs. The rest of the team is still located on the mountain...unable to withdraw without exposing themselves to hostile fire." Tony Perez briefed FBI Special Agent Donald Glasser at approximately 1:00 p.m., and used the term "pinned down" to describe the marshals' state.

By this time, agents from the Boundary County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Idaho State Police had reached the scene, and the Idaho State Police Critical Response Team ("CRI"), the Idaho National Guard Armory, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team "HRT," a specialized full-time tactical team, based at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and another group of the Marshals Service SOG units were en route.

A command post was set up at the base of the mountain and all routes going in or out were secured. At approximately 8:30 p.m., a 10-man team made its way to the remaining "SOG" team members, who were still on the mountain. It took nearly two hours for the men to make their way to the marshals at the Y. They then secured Degan's body and headed back down the mountain. The group did not arrive back at the Command Post until 12:46 a.m.

 

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