Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge

Without Warning

On Saturday, August 22, 1992, as numerous newspaper reporters and television crews began setting up at the base of the mountain, the mood within the Weaver cabin was solemn. Sammy Weaver was dead and the Weavers were convinced that the government had set them up and was planning to come up the mountain to assassinate them. Their belief in this was strengthened even more when a radio report they were listening to mistakenly reported that Randy had ambushed federal agents from his pickup truck and killed one of them in cold blood. The Weavers felt that the government was passing the false reports through the press in order to justify its actions, and that they would be killed so that the truth would never be told.

As the day wore on, the Weavers decided to visit Sammy's body, which was laid out in a shed next to the cabin. They wanted to view the body one last time and pray with it, before deciding on a proper form of burial. Nothing seemed to be happening outside and it appeared to be safe to exit the cabin.

Unbeknown to the Weavers, Lon Horiuchi, the HRT "Blue" sniper/observer team leader, had been deployed to mountainside overlooking the Weaver cabin, as instructed by FBI Special Agent Lester Hazen, the HRT sniper coordinator. Horiuchi's position was at a slight angle above the cabin, approximately 646 feet from the front door. At approximately 5:57 p.m., Horiuchi heard a helicopter and an armored personnel carrier start their engines, and saw the helicopter take off from the command post below the mountain. When he looked back towards the cabin, Horiuchi saw Randy, Sara and Kevin exit the cabin with rifles in hand, and walk towards a shed a few yards away from the cabin.

Bullet holes in the cabin door, Ruby Ridge (AP/Wide World)
Bullet holes in the cabin door,
Ruby Ridge (AP/Wide World)

As Randy reached to unlatch the shed door, Horiuchi fired one shot, without warning, and hit Randy in the upper right arm. Randy exclaimed, "Mama, I been shot," and the three ran towards the cabin door. Vicki had heard the shot and Randy cry out for help, so she ran to the cabin door with baby Elisheba in her arms and held it open so that they could make their way inside for cover. As Kevin Harris made his way through the doorway, Horiuchi placed the cross hairs of his rifle's scope on the edge of the door and fired a second shot. The bullet penetrated the door window, passed through Vicki Weaver's head and struck Kevin Harris in the left arm and chest. The bullet had miraculously missed baby Elisheba. Vicki Weaver fell to her knees, still holding her baby, and cried out in agony for approximately 30 seconds before slumping to the floor and succumbing to her fatal injury. Kevin Harris and Randy Weaver lay on the floor moaning from the massive wounds they had suffered.

As the echoes from the shots subsided, Randy and Sarah noticed that Vicki was not moving. Randy turned Vicki over and then screamed out in horror as he realized she was dead. Her skull had literally exploded and her face was unrecognizable. Randy and Sarah dragged Vicki's body away from the doorway and everyone sobbed uncontrollably.


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