Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge


Naples general store where Weavers bought supplies (David Lohr)
Naples general store where Weavers
bought supplies (David Lohr)

On December 13, 1990, Randy Weaver was indicted on federal firearms charges. Federal agents decided it was too risky to confront Randy at his home, so they decided to wait him out. A neighbor of Randy's agreed to cooperate and was provided with a walkie-talkie so that he could inform agents whenever Randy was spotted coming down the mountain. On January 17, 1991, agents received the call they had been waiting for: Randy and Vicki were on their way down the mountain to buy supplies.

Bridge site of first Weaver arrest (David Lohr)
Bridge site of first Weaver arrest
(David Lohr)

As the Weavers made their way down the winding mountain roads, they spotted a pickup truck with a camper shell parked on the bridge that crosses Ruby Creek. The hood of the vehicle was up and a man and a woman appeared to be looking under it. Randy pulled off to the side and decided to see if he could help the couple.

As Randy looked under the hood, he felt the cold hard steel of a pistol against the back of his neck. He spun around, knocked away the pistol, and reached for a .22-caliber pistol he kept in his pocket. Before he could pull out his weapon, several federal agents that had been waiting inside the camper of the truck tackled Randy. Vicki ran back towards the truck to grab a .38-caliber handgun, however she was quickly tackled by a female agent and thrown face first into a snow bank. After the agents read Randy his rights, he looked at the agent who had posed as the motorist and said, "Nice trick; you'll never do that again."

Randy was placed in the Boundary County jail and appeared in court for his arraignment the following day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Ayers. No one was present for the government at the arraignment, nor did counsel represent Randy. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and his bail was set at $10,000. Ayers then made a drastic mistake that most likely prompted all of the forthcoming events. "Well, you need to understand that...if you're found guilty of this charge, you will probably be required to reimburse the government for the cost," Ayers said. He then read a pretrial report, which concluded that Randy's only real asset was his land, which had been assessed at $20,500. Following the arraignment Randy was set free on bail. The way Ayers had mistakenly explained the procedure, Randy walked away convinced that no matter what he did, the government was going to take his land from him. Out on bond, Randy went back to his cabin and debated his next move.

On January 22, 1991 Randy received a letter stating that his court date was scheduled for March 20, 1991, however the letter contained one crucial error - the actual date was February 20, 1991. It is unknown why Randy was provided with the wrong date and it has since been declared a typographical error. When Randy failed to show up at his February hearing, US Attorney Ron Howen asked Judge Harold Ryan to declare Randy Weaver a federal fugitive. Even though both men had just been informed of the date mix-up, Ryan agreed with Howen and issued an arrest warrant for Randy. The warrant was then turned over to the US Marshals, whose job is to seek federal fugitives and process federal prisoners while they are in transit or at trial.


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