I WAS THERE
These two letters by Bo Grits give an account of the 1992 Ruby Ridge by a third party individual who was there, and who helped diffuse the situation. Every American should read what happened there. Justice has never been rendered.
RE: Randy Weaver articles. Your printing of the Randy Weaver Idaho siege article (No Accountability at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), by James Boward, and FBI Director Louis Freeh's rebuttal is appreciated. Unfortunately, neither Freeh, nor your Boward, were there -- I was!
Initially, the FBI called me when Weaver wouldn't communicate with official negotiators. After wading through an army of bureau-rats, I was allowed on Weaver Mountain. In our first exchange, Randall (Pete to family and friends), told me the feds had killed Vicki and were keeping it a secret. He was also upset that the media was falsely labeling him a "white supremacist."
I telephoned Gerry Spence to defend Weaver, carried Kevin Harris (on the verge of death) from the cabin the next day and brought out Vicki Weaver's body. I negotiated with and accompanied Randall and his three daughters out of the siege. I have already made the following statement to FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators, but have no faith that it is part of their "classified" (except to the N.Y. Times) Weaver Report.
Lon Horiuchi was the FBI Hostage Response Team (HRT) sniper who killed Vicki Weaver. The Department of Justice report says he shot her by "accident" after shooting Randall in the back. This is a blatant lie! The truth testifies of premeditated murder.
Randall Weaver, his 16-year old daughter, Sara, and Kevin Harris came out of the cabin to look in on Sammy Weaver, shot in the back the day before (21 August 1992) by U.S. Marshal Arthur Roderick. Sammy's body was secured from the "Y" ambush point where Marshall William Degan was also shot to death. The Weavers and Harris placed Sammy's remains in a 10 foot by 10 foot "birthing shelter" some 15 yards from the main cabin. As Randall raised his right arm to unlatch the door, he was shot without warning in the upper right back.
Vicki stood holding the main cabin door open with her right arm extended while cradling 10 month old Elisheba in her left arm. Kevin, Sara, and Randall bolted for the door in that order as Vicki was shot in the face. A bullet also pierced Kevin Harris through his left upper arm and chest. Only Sara, Elisheba and 10-year old Rachel remained uninjured. Vicki fell to her knees and bled to death (the bullet severed her left jugular) while the older daughters fought to release her grip on the infant.
Randall dragged Vicki inside under the kitchen table and slammed the door, which was then blocked by a 750-pound robot, nicknamed ZOGBOT by the HRT. There was no further contact until my arrival three days later.
Weaver agreed that Kevin would die if not given immediate professional help. His lungs were full of fluid and he was badly jaundiced. I was allowed into the cabin to help evacuate Kevin. I returned to examine Randall's wound. It was clear to see that he had been hit by a .223 caliber bullet fired from an M- 16 rifle, not a 7.62 millimeter from Horiuchi's Remington 700 sniper rifle. The .223 entered his right upper back and emerged cleanly from the center of his arm pit. I examined Vicki Weaver, who lay in a puddle of body fluids at one end of the 30-foot squared 3/4 inch plywood and 2x4 cabin. Clearly a high velocity 7.62 mm. slug had struck her right face just in front of the lower ear -- jaw line and exited just beneath the left jaw, tearing through the artery. The ugly wound almost completely destroyed the once beautiful face. I commented to Randall that it was obvious his bride was killed by a 7.62.
During my official statement to the DOJ investigating team, they ran off to bring back a sample .223 and 7.62 round, hoping to convince me that they are hard to tell apart. General William C. Westmoreland featured me as "The" American soldier in his memoirs. I spent years as a special operations commander in Vietnam, where I witnessed hundreds of people turned into garbage by both .223 and 7.62. I know the difference. Lon Horiuchi is lying when he claims to have shot Randall in the back and then accidentally hit Vicki trying to get a second quick shot off as Randall ran into the cabin. Every sniper team has a back-up shooter (number two man) responsible for communication with the Command & Control unit and security of the number one sniper. This number two carries an M-16 with open (iron) sights. The number one man has a choice (of weapons), but the FBI standard is a Remington 700 bolt action using 7.62 "match" ammunition with a 10-power United States Marine Corps sniper telescope.
Lon Horiuchi testified in Court that he practiced, hitting a quarter inch target at 200 meters (yards). I lay in Horiuchi's sniper nest beside a pine on a hillside 200 yards from, and overlooking the cabin. He fired from a prone supported position and almost anyone with training could have hit the target from that range with a 10-power telescope - yet he missed - by more than 10 inches! Horiuchi testified under oath that he aimed his first shot at the base of Randall's skull for an instant kill. Weaver was standing stock still with his back directly facing Horiuchi, lifting up his right arm to unlatch the tiny shelter less than 200 yards away, but Horiuchi didn't fire the first round - number two DID! Horiuchi was zeroed in on Vicki Weaver, but she would have made a better target standing standing in the yard. The number two man aimed his M- 16 offhand with iron sights at Weaver's head, but typically (ask any vet) missed by the margin stated. When Weaver didn't fall and the family ran for the cabin, Horiuchi hit his quarter inch bulls eye target - as planned.
The feds cremated both Vicki and Sammy, so no confirming autopsy is possible. The Weavers have a $300 million plus law suit against the feds for wrongful death, so Gerry Spence and certainly the Weavers have a jaded interest. Louie Freeh and Janet Reno are covering up (again), so they are apt to color the fact. I have received nothing from the government, nor will I from the Weavers, except Randall's thanks for saving their lives. It should come to trial, but probably won't, that I was the only "outsider" on the inside of what happened on Weaver Mountain. HRT Commander (Lon Horiuchi's boss), Dick Rogers, told me they "TARGETED VICKI WEAVER AS PRIORITY NUMBER ONE, SINCE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE SHOWED HER TO BE THE MATERNAL HEAD OF THE FAMILY AND IT WAS THOUGHT SHE WOULD KILL THE CHILDREN BEFORE ALLOWING A SURRENDER."
The Chief Red Cross representative at the FBI siege headquarters told me that he was appalled to hear HRT members exclaim: "No one is going to come off that hill alive!" When they came off the mountain that evening he said they jubilantly put up a sign proclaiming the FBI location to be "CAMP VICKI!" The Red Cross chief said the sign stayed up until the day I arrived.
When I came down the hill after the first talk with Randall, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge of Western States, Gene Glenn, asked me: "What are we going to do about Vicki Weaver?" When I explained that it was wrong to cover up the death -- especially since Vicki's parents were present at the vigil waiting out the siege -- he asked: "OK Bo, but can we be the ones to release the information?" The family members were called inside the police line and finally told the news the FBI had known since Day one!
The Media continues to report that Kevin Harris killed Marshal William Degan: THIS IS NOT TRUE! Kevin did in fact tell me through the cabin wall on the second day of negotiations that he shot Degan. When I asked him how he was certain, he said: "Well, he's dead and Sammy didn't do it." Degan, Roderick and Larry Cooper (armed with a 9mm silenced Colt sub-machine gun) were wearing camouflage and laying in prepared positions within a wooded area overlooking the trail at the "Y." Harris confirmed that he didn't actually "SEE" Degan, but he "...did fire one shot from a bolt action 30.06 rifle at a spot where smoke and expended shell casings were coming from."
During the Boise trial (July 1993), Gerry Spence proved from the trail of expended cartridges that William Degan, the most decorated Marshal in the U.S. Marshal Service's (USMS) 208 year history, ran in front of Larry Cooper trying to get a better shot at Kevin Harris. Not hearing the silenced Colt in the din of machine gun fire, Degen was killed. Cooper testified, "I aimed my weapon and pulled trigger. The target fell like sack of potatoes." Kevin was not hit and Degan died, albeit accidentally. The jury recognized this and completely exonerated Kevin Harris of an wrongdoing of any kind. He walked from the federal court a free man.
Your readers should write, call and fax Randall Day, Boundary County Prosecutor, Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, 83805, (208) 267-7545), and encourage him to allow a Grand Jury to determine if charges should be filed against those responsible for the killing of Sammy, Vicki and Degan. Regardless of what Reno and Freeh say -- Day has primary jurisdiction.
For readers who want more factual information, I offer this second letter:
I had never known Randy Weaver before receiving a call from the FBI on 24 August 1992, in Phoenix, Arizona. They said I was a person, identified by friends and family of Randall, that he respected and might listen to. Weaver was a Green Beret demolition sergeant in the 7O's, but did not go to Vietnam. I visited the Green Beret headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C. several times during my tour of duty from 1964 -- 1969. As a special operations commander actively engaged in guerrilla warfare, I shared trade craft and lessons learned with those who might be going over. Randy Weaver might have been at one of those sessions.
The FBI wanted me to make a tape recording (to be broadcast) over the telephone urging Weaver to surrender. I know Special Forces and knew such a puny effort was hopeless. Before being commissioned, I had walked in Weaver's boots as a demolitions specialist. Randy could have fugas (jellied napalm) buried around his home in 55 gallon drums and homemade mines in the trees. A lot of people could die -- especially when I learned they had shot his son, 13-year-old Sammy, in the back while he was running home. I told Randall on the tape that I would come to Idaho the next day. The FBI didn't play the tape.
I arrived to find a police line of 35 FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), USMS and Idaho State Police agents in camouflaged kevlar, armed with MP-5 German submachine guns guarding the bridge across Ruby Creek some three miles from Weaver's mountain cabin. The National Guard extended the defensive perimeter with Armored vehicles and overhead helicopter patrols. I was told no one had time to talk to me.
The next day I fashioned a "citizen's arrest," which named William Webster, Special Agent-in-Charge Gene Glenn, the USMS Chief and Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus as felony conspirators to the wrongful deaths of Marshall William Degan and minor Sammy Weaver. I placed the document on the police side of the line and 30 minutes later was snatched betwixt the bars -- so to speak.
I was escorted around the bend to be scolded by Gene Glenn and the Assistant U.S. Attorney. After some posturing, Glenn agreed to seek permission from Washington for me to try and break the silence with Weaver. One hour later I was told to do what I could at my own risk under the total control of HRT commander Dick Rogers, who "owned the mountain top."
Fred Lansley, chief FBI negotiator and Rogers weren't glad to see me. They had been taunting Weaver through the 750 pound robo-cop to open the door and accept a package wrapped in wire in the robot's claw. It was said to be a telephone. Weaver told me he was certain it was a bomb. Beside the claw was a remotely fired 12 gauge shotgun, along with a video head, loud speakers ears and a microphone mouth. The FBI's ploy that morning was a tacky announcement that they were having blueberry pancakes and were wondering what Mrs. Weaver was fixing her family - knowing Vicki lay dead in the kitchen. Weaver wouldn't respond.
Rogers said that I could "...only speak to Weaver through the Zogbot." Then I "had to remain in a tank shouting out of the turret with a loud speaker." Finally, amid shouts of extreme disapproval, I leaped from the tank and stood on a rock outcropping close to and in plain view of the cabin. "Randall, this is Bo Gritz!" Randall's response was instant: "Bo, is that you?" I saw a face with a burr cut blur in a side window. Weaver then told me about Vicki.
Progress was swift. I was allowed into the cabin to help Kevin down a long rickety stairway (one end of the cabin was up on stilts -- the other blocked by Zogbot). Things were coming apart and I felt, given time, the family would come out without violence. The next day, Sunday, I persuaded Randall to allow me to take Vicki's body out. She had lain eight days beneath the kitchen table. The cabin doors were locked tight and windows sealed with drapes and blankets. The cabin air was stale and hot. She was dressed in a long, dark handmade pioneer skirt and boots. We unbuckled her pistol, and positioned her in a blue body bag. Randall wailed while Sara and Rachel sobbed and begged me: "Please, Bo, don't let mama's body touch the ground!" as I struggled down the stairs with the lifeless form.
The Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) headquarters was off the summit some 100 yards down and along the steep logging road. A growing pile of trash, cans, raw garbage and loose paper marked the command post. I was in for a major surprise as I stopped by to discuss the day's progress and tomorrow's plan. Dick Rogers, in the presence of Jack McLamb, a retired Phoenix police officer I had brought with me, stated: "It's over tomorrow! If you can't get them to come out, we're takin' 'em out!" Why the big rush? I informed Rogers, "we will not leave the family." He seemed somewhat amused and replied, "You do what you want. If it looks like they aren't comin' out, we're going in. It's over tomorrow!"
The next morning, Dick affirmed his self-imposed drop-dead time. The FBI had pole charges prepared to place against the windows and doors. The cabin was made out of plywood and 2X4's with huge windows overlooking a rare vista of mountain beauty. The satchel charges placed high on the windows would explode shards of glass with deadly velocity down upon anyone in the cabin -- including the toddler, Elisheba (God's Promise). I explained that rather than leave, if it appeared Weaver would not surrender, we (Jack and I) would gather the family in our arms and push them to the floor. I would give the code word "Alaska." The detonations would be followed by a physical assault up the stairs and through the door hole.
As we left the rubbish dump, something told me to expect the worst. I told Jack to walk quietly, I didn't want anyone to hear us until it was too late. As I was about to ascend the steps, Weaver called out, "Bo, is that you? The girls and I have prayed all night about what to do and we have decided that the FBI will have to kill us just like they did our little brother and mama. It's nothing personal, Bo, but we aren't going to talk anymore to you or anyone else." I could feel the charges detonate.
I went up the stairs as quickly as possible to avert any premature HRT action. Weaver had no way of knowing Roger's plan and I certainly couldn't tell him. Randall and the girls were combatting a great guilt quandary that only infantry grunts normally know -- when comrades are taken and you are left. Thee Weavers wanted to die! Rogers was bent on accommodating them. All the Zogbot intimidation was meant to drive him out shooting. Before that, in true pre-Waco fashion, Rogers had a helicopter with a fuel cell hover over the cabin with the threat of burning them out. When I confronted Rogers about the chopper, he said it was just a normal resupply of fuel for the Hum Vees, generators, lanterns, stoves, et al. The bird was spotted by a newsman and logger on the next hill over. When seen, the pilot flew the chopper back to the main valley base.
I refused to leave the door and finally, at noon, it opened. Weaver hugged me and told the girls: "Get your stuff together, we're followin' Colonel Bo down the hill." It was over -- in spite of Rogers.
A federal grand jury found Weaver innocent of sawing off shotguns (the original charge), killing Degan, and everything except (not) showing up for the weapons charge. Kevin Harris left the court room a free man. The criminal justice system had worked -- except for those who killed Sammy, Vicki and Degan.
Note: The system worked again, later, when Gerry Spence won $3.3 million dollars for Randy and his daughters. But recently failed miserably when the state of Idaho charges against the sniper, Horuchi, were dismissed by a Federal Judge.
E-Mail Jeff Head