Randy Weaver ran afoul of the federal government in 1989 by selling a Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms informer two illegal sawed-off shotguns and then refusing to help agents investigate white supremacists.
He was indicted on weapons charges but failed to appear in court in February 1991. Instead, Weaver and his family holed up in their mountaintop cabin until Aug. 21, 1992, when six deputy U.S. marshals on a surveillance mission were discovered by Weaver’s dog.
A gunfight killed Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Sam, and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan. The next day, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi wounded Weaver and friend Kevin Harris and killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, 43, as she held her 10-month-old daughter, Elisheba.
A badly wounded Harris surrendered 10 days into the siege. Weaver and his three daughters surrendered on the arm of a decorated former Green Beret colonel on the 11th day.
In July 1993, a federal jury acquitted Weaver of all but one minor charge. He served a total of 16 months in jail and moved back to his native Iowa.
Last January, the FBI reprimanded 12 agents for their handling of the Weaver case, including Larry Potts, who supervised the standoff from Washington, D.C.
Despite the rebuff, Potts at the same time was promoted to the FBI’s No. 2 position.
In April, the Justice Department said the FBI botched the standoff and then failed to support government lawyers prosecuting Weaver. Other Justice investigations debunked the initial findings.
In July, FBI Director Louis Freeh demoted his friend Potts and suspended him and four other bureau officials pending a criminal investigation. The five are accused of approving unlawful rules of engagement or destroying documents relating to their approval of the controversial orders.
Last month, the Justice Department agreed to pay Weaver and his three daughters $3.1 million to settle their $200 million civil claim against the government.