From the April 2004 Idaho Observer:

To hell and back

Here in Spirit Lake, 50 miles from Ruby Ridge, it is hard to forget the nine days of lies, deceit and federal occupation of Boundary county. Most of the Weaver's friends, neighbors and community members are still here. A friend of ours lives at the bottom of the road leading up to Ruby Ridge. Another was news director at KSPT radio at the time.

To most, Ruby Ridge has been moved from the list of current government atrocities to the archives of historical anecdotia. Ruby Ridge, Waco, Wounded Knee, Kent State, internment camps, Ludlow Massacre...For us, being this close to the scene of this horrible crime is personal because we know many of the people who were there, at the bridge, when Bo Gritz and Jackie Brown came off the mountain with Vicki Weaver, dead.

But that was 11 years ago. Several books, a movie, documentaries and magazine articles have been written about this tragedy. I have read or viewed many of them. I carry into these works certain views that cloud my perception with peripheral issues. Most of them were sewn into my consciousness in August, 1992 when, living in Spokane and three years before my independent publishing career began, I believed what the Spokesman-Review and KXLY TV News were telling me; the rest has come from meeting and becoming friends with people who knew the Weavers before the incident took place.

Sheriff Richard Mack recently edited a book with Randy Weaver. Mack, a non-drinking, non-smoking, non-swearing Mormon career law-enforcement officer running for governor of Utah, describes the smoking, drinking, swearing Randy Weaver as his friend in the forward to the book “Vicki, Sam and America: How the Government Killed All Three.”

It is a small book, 168 pages in 12-point type. I started reading it and was moved to scan a passage for you to read. It hit me real hard. No matter if you love him, hate him, have no opinion of the man or simply trust the government will always do the right thing, no one can read the following three pages of this book and not ask, “What if that was me?”

What if that was your innocent little boy (I am crying right now) who was shot in the back by some unknown assailant out there in the woods; what if that was your innocent wife who was shot in the face while she held your baby; what if you were all alone, hurt and surrounded on a mountaintop with the U.S. military picking your family off one by one for allegedly failing to appear in court for what is essentially the non-crime of allegedly making a shotgun a fraction of an inch too short?

Okay. I have regained my composure.

To Randy and the girls: I am sorry.

To Americans: Read the passage below. This is a simply stated, first hand recounting of an event that has forever twisted the American dream. Get used to it. This is your government. It kills its citizens at will and makes no apologies.

To the U.S. government: What you do to the least of us, you do to all of us. Someday my countrymen will understand that and you will then be relieved of your authority to kill innocent people, here and elsewhere. (DWH)

by Randy Weaver

Most people will never go through what happened to us at Ruby Ridge. My son Sam was shot in the back and killed while he tried to make sense of his dog (Striker) being machine-gunned to death. Sam had no idea what in the hell was going on. He returned fire toward those who ruthlessly killed his dog. He had no idea who they were or why they were shooting Striker. Sam loved Striker, he was his buddy and companion.

If any of us had a hint at all that federal agents were surrounding our property, we would have stayed put inside the house. Nevertheless, the feds shot Sam's dog, then shot Sam in the back and left him to die in the dirt. No first aid was rendered, no one went to Sam's aid, and no one even made a call for an ambulance. The feds ignored the dying young boy and got help only for their own fatally wounded partner.

Later, the other Marshals claimed they never knew Sam was even shot, let alone killed. They even went so far as to blame me or Kevin Harris for shooting Sam. I'm surprised they didn't try to blame it on the man behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll.

Kevin Harris, a close friend of the family, was living with us at the time and was with Sam when he was killed. Amazingly, Kevin escaped being shot and made it back to the house. He broke the news to us about Sam's death and I went crazy with grief and anger. I fell to the ground and beat the earth uncontrollably with my fists. I'm not sure what Vicki and my girls were doing right then as I was completely out of it.

When I came out of my rage we decided to go after Sam. We were certain that we would be shot at, but at that moment we didn't care. We had to get Sam.

Vicki and I found Sam's body on the dirt road and I carried him home. I was still hoping against hope that Kevin was mistaken, but it was obvious he was not. Why we were not shot as we retrieved Sam's body is still a mystery.

We mourned and wondered throughout the night about the day's events. Scared out of our wits we all stayed close together in the house. We listened to the news, and the lies they were telling about us. The propaganda astonished and disgusted us. They actually said that we had ambushed the federal agents and murdered one of them. Now we were even more scared as we knew that more of them would be coming after us. We never dreamed it would be to the extent and magnitude as it actually ended up being.

At about 4:30 p.m. the next day our other dogs started barking so Kevin, Sara and I went to check on things outside. I was hoping someone wanted to talk with us. I found nothing and it appeared that no one was out there. Wrong! As I headed to the shed where we had laid Sam, I was shot in the back. There was no warning, no “freeze you're under arrest!” Nothing! I guess I should feel lucky the bullet didn't get me in the head or the heart.

Sara, our oldest daughter, heard the shot and came running to check on me; she was only 16 but mature for her age. I told her I had been shot. She promptly yelled for me to get in the house and she pushed me in that direction. Vicki came out to help and was holding our 10-month-old baby in one arm. Vicki cursed the federal shooters and yelled for us all to get in the house, all in the same breath. It would be her last. As she held the door open for Sara, Kevin, and me, another shot cracked through the mountain air. As I stumbled inside the house I turned and saw Kevin lying on his back writhing in pain. Then I turned to Vicki. She was on her knees slumped over the baby with her head on the floor.

Half of Vicki's face and head were gone and she was bleeding all over the floor. It was plain to see she had taken a fatal shot. I pulled Elisheba, our baby, from under Vicki and gave her to Rachel, our nine-year-old. Sara and Rachel were screaming hysterically. Kevin looked like he was going to die also. I pulled Vicki inside the kitchen and wrapped her in a blanket.

The shock we all felt is beyond description. My son was dead, my wife lay dead in the kitchen, I was wounded, Kevin appeared to be dying, and I had three girls to care for. Sara and Rachel were totally in shock with horror. I had to muster the strength to calm them down and relieve some of their fear. I was so proud of the way they responded. But I could not convince them we would survive; after all, they had just witnessed the murders of their brother and mother. How could I ever expect Sara and Rachel to make sense of the hell they had just been put through?

At least the feds didn't burn our house down, or run a tank through it, or kill my daughters.

After nine days of anguish and mental torture as a result of taunts and sarcasm from the feds, we were totally fatigued and emotionally drained. Kevin had been begging me to put him out of his misery just about the entire time we were holed up; and watching him suffer so much was absolute torture for us. Nevertheless, I could not comply with his request.

At about this same time Bo Gritz arrived to help get us out safely and to work out a deal for our surrender. I finally agreed to do so when Bo told me Gerry Spence would help with our case.

Finally, after 11 days of this nightmare, I surrendered. Vicki's parents took the girls to Iowa and Kevin and I went to jail charged with murder.

To get a copy of this book, send $20 to:

W.M. Books
Box 50911
Provo, Utah 84605

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