The standoff at Ruby Ridge was a deadly 11-day confrontation in 1992 between Randy Weaver, his family, and his friend Kevin Harris, against agents of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ([[FBI]]). The event took place in northern Idaho, on Ruby Ridge, and has since become synonymous with instances of perceived government overreach and the mishandling of deadly force.
Randy Weaver, a former factory worker and U.S. Army combat engineer, had moved with his family to northern Idaho during the 1980s to escape what he saw as a corrupt world. Over time, he had interactions with white supremacist groups, which brought him to the attention of the federal authorities. In 1989, Weaver sold two illegal sawed-off shotguns to an undercover ATF agent. After failing to appear in court to face the charges, Weaver became a fugitive.
The situation escalated in August 1992, when US Marshals surveilling the property got into a firefight with Weaver's 14-year-old son, Sammy, and his family friend, Kevin Harris. Sammy Weaver and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were both killed in the confrontation.
Following the initial encounter, the FBI was called in, and rules of engagement were altered to allow agents to use deadly force more freely than they typically could. This change in the rules of engagement has been widely criticized.
On August 22, an FBI sniper fired at Randy Weaver, wounding him. The sniper fired again, killing Weaver's wife, Vicki, and wounding Kevin Harris. Vicki Weaver was unarmed and holding her 10-month-old baby at the time she was killed.
The standoff continued until August 31, when negotiators convinced Weaver to surrender. Randy Weaver was arrested, and Kevin Harris was flown to a hospital for treatment of his injuries.
The events at Ruby Ridge resulted in a high-profile federal trial. Weaver and Harris were acquitted of murder, conspiracy, and other charges related to Degan's death. Weaver was convicted of failing to appear for his original court date for the firearms charges.
The Ruby Ridge standoff is often cited by those who criticize the federal government's handling of confrontations with civilians. It inflamed tensions among anti-government groups and individuals, and along with the [[Waco Siege]] in 1993, it has been cited as a motivation behind the [[Oklahoma City bombing]] in 1995. The incident led to significant criticism of the FBI and resulted in a reevaluation of its rules of engagement.
See also: [[white supremacy]], [[anti-government]]