Randy Weaver, participant in Ruby Ridge standoff, dies at 74

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Randy Weaver, patriarch of a family that was involved in an 11-day Idaho standoff with federal agents 30 years ago that left three people dead, has died at the age of 74.

His death was announced Thursday in a Facebook post by daughter Sara Weaver, who lives near Kalispell, Montana.

“Love you always Dad” was written on Sara Weaver’s Facebook page, posted with a picture of an older Randy and a smiling Sara, along with the dates Jan. 3, 1948, and May 11, 2022.

A cause of death has not been released, according to the Associated Press.

Randy Weaver holds the door of his cabin showing holes from bullets fired during the 1992 siege of his Ruby Ridge, Idaho, home, model at left, during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 6, 1995.

Randy Weaver holds the door of his cabin showing holes from bullets fired during the 1992 siege of his Ruby Ridge, Idaho, home, model at left, during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 6, 1995.
(AP Photo/Joe Marquette, File)

On Aug. 21, 1992, Randy Weaver, a self-described white separatist, was involved in a gun battle with six federal agents in Ruby Ridge. The altercation left Weaver’s wife Vicki and 14-year-old son Samuel dead by an FBI sniper during the 11-day standoff.

The standoff was located in the Idaho Panhandle about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.

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The incident transfixed the nation in 1992. 

Randy Weaver moved his family to northern Idaho in the 1980s to escape what he saw as a corrupt world. Over time, federal agents began investigating the Army veteran for possible ties to white supremacist and anti-government groups. Weaver was eventually suspected of selling a government informant two illegal sawed-off shotguns.

White separatist Randy Weaver is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 6, 1995 prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

White separatist Randy Weaver is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 6, 1995 prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
(AP Photo/Joe Marquette, File)

The standoff began when the U.S. Marshall Service tried to arrest Weaver for failing to appear on a firearms charge.

To avoid arrest, Weaver holed up on his land for a year and a half with his family near Naples, Idaho.

On August 21, 1992, a team of Marshals showed up at the property to find suitable places to ambush and arrest Weaver came across his friend, Kevin Harris, and Weaver’s 14-year-old son Samuel in the woods. A gunfight broke out. Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan was also killed.

The next day, an FBI sniper shot Randy Weaver. As Weaver, Harris and Sara ran back toward the house, the sniper fired a second bullet, which passed through Vicki Weaver’s head as she held an infant and wounded Harris in the chest.

During the siege, Sara Weaver crawled around her mother’s blanket-covered body to get food and water for the survivors until the family surrendered on Aug. 31, 1992.

Harris and Randy Weaver were arrested, and Weaver’s three daughters went to live with their mother’s family in Iowa. 

Randy Weaver was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the original gun charge, but was released after 16 months for good behavior. Harris was acquitted of all charges.

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The surviving members of the Weaver family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The federal government awarded Randy Weaver a $100,000 settlement and his three daughters $1 million each in 1995.

After Ruby Ridge, federal agents laid siege to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. It ended violently after 51 days on April 19, 1993, when a fire destroyed the compound after an assault was launched, killing 76 people.

Timothy McVeigh cited both Ruby Ridge and Waco as motivators when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Ruby Ridge has often been cited by militia and patriot groups since.

Randy Weaver, the object of the Ruby Ridge siege, visits with the media at the main FBI roadblock outside the Freemen compound in Montana on April 27, 1996.

Randy Weaver, the object of the Ruby Ridge siege, visits with the media at the main FBI roadblock outside the Freemen compound in Montana on April 27, 1996.
(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Randy Weaver speaks to a reporter about his book Tuesday, June 9, 1998, in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Randy Weaver speaks to a reporter about his book Tuesday, June 9, 1998, in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
(Renee Dietrich/The Messenger via AP, File)

Sara Weaver lives near Kalispell, Montana, a city in the northwestern part of the state that is the gateway to Glacier National Park and more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Ruby Ridge.

Sara Weaver said she is devastated each time someone commits a violent act in the name of Ruby Ridge. “It killed me inside,” she told The Associated Press in 2012, regarding the Oklahoma City bombing. “I knew what it was like to lose a family member in violence. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

After graduating from high school in Iowa, Sara Weaver moved to the Kalispell area in 1996. Her sisters and father followed shortly after.

She has been back to Ruby Ridge, to the land her family still owns. All that remains of the family’s modest home is the foundation, she said.

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Randy Weaver is survived by wife Linda Gross, whom he married in 1999, and daughters Sara, Rachel, and Elisheba.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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