Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Randy Weaver: Siege at Ruby Ridge


On August 17, 1992, a U.S. Marshals "SOG" team consisting of Larry Cooper, William Degan, Arthur Roderick, David Hunt, Larry Thomas, and Frank Norris, arrived in Sandpoint, Idaho to set up a command post on Schweitzer Mountain. The objective was to survey the Weaver property for a final threat assessment. The undercover surveillance operation was expected to take approximately two weeks and there was no plan to arrest Randy Weaver during any excursion. Two days later, on the evening of August 19, the team reviewed standing orders that they were to avoid all contact with the Weaver family. In preparation for their first mission, the marshals discussed the terrain; the people who were believed to be on the mountain, and the weapons the Weavers were known to have. They also reviewed surveillance videos, photographs, and other information. It was then decided that the team would make its first survey of the Weaver property on Friday, August 21, since local weather forecasts indicated favorable night illumination and weather conditions for that day. In preparation for the mission, the marshals acquired three .223 caliber M16 rifles, a .223 caliber M16A2 Colt Carbine, a "sniper" rifle, a shotgun, and a "suppressed" .9mm NATO Colt Carbine. In addition, the team members brought their own personal service weapons.

At about 2:30 a.m. on August 21, 1992, the heavily armed "SOG" team left its command post on Schweitzer Mountain and drove to an informant's residence just below Ruby Ridge. They team members arrived at approximately 4:30 a.m., and set out on foot up the mountain towards the Weaver cabin. Their plan was to move under the cover of darkness to various surveillance positions and conduct a few hours of surveillance. Each marshal was equipped with radios and night vision equipment and wore camouflage tops, pants, and boots. Even though bulletproof vests were available, no one chose to wear one. Marshal Degan carried one of the SOG M16s; Thomas and Norris each had rifles; Roderick had a M16; and Cooper had the "suppressed". 9mm. Hunt was carrying camera equipment, so he elected to take only his service weapon. They did not bring the sniper rifle with them.

Gate at Weavers' driveway (David Lohr)
Gate at Weavers' driveway (David Lohr)

Soon after entering the woods surrounding the mountain, the group reached a trail, which split into a Y. The group then decided to split up into two three-man teams. The first team, the Observation Post ("OP") team, consisted of Hunt, Thomas, and Norris; the second team, the Reconnaissance ("Recon") team, was comprised of Roderick, Cooper, and Degan. The OP team left the Y and took the left fork of the trail through a canopy of trees and a fern field. It then proceeded up the hill to a north switchback road and set up an observation post, about 900 feet above, and one half of a mile from the Weaver cabin. As the OP team made its way up the mountain, Roderick led Degan and Cooper further up the trail from the Y toward the Weaver cabin. The team stopped at the edge of some trees approximately 250 to 300 yards from the Weavers' driveway.


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