As part of a series titled Retro Report, The New York Times took a look at the tactics used by government officials in the Ruby Ridge stand-off of 1992, which ended in a federal agent shot to death, as well as a 14-year-old boy and his mother, who was holding her 10-month-old baby when she was shot in the head.
Randall and Vicki Weaver moved to the remote northern Idaho location of Ruby Ridge in the 1980s to live in a cabin with their four children as they awaited what they felt was the impending apocalypse.
In February 1992, a warrant was issued for Randall’s arrest when he failed to appear at a scheduled court date for a weapons charge, a charge which he felt was bogus from the beginning.
In August, knowing that the family was heavily armed, federal agents closed in on the Weaver’s property and on August 21 an exchange of gunfire erupted. It was then that the Randall’s son and the federal agent were killed.
The stand-off between the Weaver family and federal agents lasted for 11 days before Randall Weaver finally turned himself in, but not before his wife and son were killed.
Although Randall admitted that the entire altercation could have been avoided had he not missed his court date – which was later discovered likely due to a clerical error regarding the date – federal officials also admitted to “a series of terribly flawed law enforcement operations with tragic consequences.”
Three years after the stand-off, Randall and his three daughters, who had all witnessed yet survived the ordeal, were awarded $3.1 million from the federal government. In the end, Randall was only found guilty for missing his court date. All other charges against him, including the weapons charges, were dropped. In addition, several government officials were reprimanded for their actions surrounding the Ruby Ridge stand-off.