one-eyed fat man's Journal
Believing that he attended the Aryan Nations church and Aryan Nations World Congresses, the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI interviewed Weaver and his wife in 1985. Weaver denied belonging to the Aryan Nations, and the couple cited differences in religious beliefs between themselves and the group. Randy Weaver was approached by the ATF to inform on the Aryan Brotherhood and declined. Undercover ATF agents finagled him into violating the NFA by sawing off a shotgun. Weaver refused to shorten the barrel to less than 18 inches which is a rather well known restriction.
Under the National Firearms Act (NFA) it is illegal for a private citizen to possess a sawed-off modern smokeless powder shotgun, i.e. with a barrel length less than 18 inches (46 cm) and an overall length less than 26 inches (66 cm), without a tax-stamped permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which requires a background check and a $200 fee for every transfer.
The ATF informant did talk him into removing enough wood from the stock the gun was 3/8 inch too short. The lack of a tax stamp was the leverage the government was using to force Weaver into becoming an informant and he was ordered to appear in court on the charges.
Weaver's original court date was Feb. 19 1991; it was changed to the following day, but Pretrial Services sent Weaver a notice citing the date as March 20. As a result, Weaver missed the hearing and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, with the U.S. Marshals Service directed to serve it. By Feb. 27, it was widely known that Weaver had been given the wrong date. The U.S. Marshals Service wanted to allow Weaver the opportunity to show up in court on March 20, but the U.S. Attorneys Office sought a grand jury indictment on March 14 for Weaver's failure to appear.
After long-term surveillance, the Deputy Director of the Special Operations Group of the Marshals Service recommended against a tactical assault on the Weaver residence. He recommended that the indictment be dismissed and then refiled later under seal, so that Weaver would be unaware of the new indictment, in hope of causing him to drop his guard. An undercover operation could then be executed to arrest Weaver without incident. His recommendation was rejected.
However reprehensible Weaver's personal beliefs may have been, there is no evidence he want anything more than to be left alone on his mountain top. There is plenty of evidence of collusion and an apparent desire exact retribution against Weaver for not wanting to be an informant.
Much controversy was later generated by the fact that, after the first day's events, the FBI had changed its usual rules of engagement; specifically, "deadly force can and should be used against any armed adult male if the shot could be taken without a child being injured." No request for surrender or announcement of officials' presence would be needed to shoot.
The next day, August 22, 1992, HRT sniper/observer teams were deployed on the north ridge overlooking the cabin. Randy Weaver, Harris, and Weaver's 16-year-old daughter Sara were seen outside the cabin. Weaver went to view the body of Sammy Weaver,<8> which had been placed in a shed after being recovered the previous day. Weaver's back was to FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi. Horiuchi aimed to sever Weaver's spine for an instant kill. Weaver moved in the last split second as Horiuchi fired and the bullet entered Weaver's right shoulder and exited the armpit. As the three ran back to the house, Horiuchi fired again at Kevin Harris as he ran away, but this time hit Weaver's wife Vicki in the head as she held their 10-month-old daughter Elishiba at the door. Vicki Weaver collapsed on the floor, dying instantly with her bloody but uninjured daughter in her arms. Harris was hit in the chest by the same bullet. A Justice Department review later found this second shot was unconstitutional and the lack of a request to surrender was "inexcusable", since Harris and the two Weavers were running for cover and could not pose an imminent threat. The task force also specifically blamed Horiuchi for firing at the door, not knowing whether someone was on the other side of it, and criticized those who had decided on the special rules of engagement allowing shots to be fired with no previous request for surrender.Much later, a robot vehicle approached the cabin and announced the presence of law enforcement. According to the Weavers, this was the first announcement of the source of the violence.
A stand-off ensued for 10 days as several hundred federal agents surrounded the house, in which Weaver and his three surviving children remained with Harris and the body of Vicki Weaver, under a blood-soaked blanket. During the stand-off, the government force, which numbered 350 to 400 men, had named their temporary camp "Camp Vicki". The negotiators who later claimed they did not know Vicki was dead would call out in the morning 'Vicki, we have blueberry pancakes.' To Sara Weaver inside with her dead mother's body, they were deliberately taunting the survivors.
The government was heavy-handed in their response at best and reprehensible at worst. That you laud their actions is despicable.