SEATTLE -- One of the darkest times in our region's history ended with the deaths of a U.S. Marshal, a 14-year-old boy and a mother.
In August 1992, a white separatist family in northern Idaho ended up in a days-long siege with federal agents that would ultimately end in bloodshed. | Read more about the siege from Tru TV
Now almost 20 years later, Sara Weaver, who lived through it as a teenager is sharing her memories of Ruby Ridge.
The devoutly religious Weaver family had come to Ruby Ridge prepared for the End Times and they were armed. Federal agents believed Randy Weaver was dangerous, so when they showed up with arrest warrants, they came prepared for trouble.
It went bad from the start. As shots started flying, marshals shot 14-year-old Sam Weaver in the back, and a marshal was shot dead.
The government brought in reinforcements setting up their barricade at the bridge, and Weaver supporters showed up in force.
On day two, an FBI sniper shot into the Weaver cabin, shooting Sara's mom Vicki Weaver in the face. She was holding her 10-month-old daughter Elisheda in her arms, with 16-year-old Sara just steps away.
"It was very hard. I felt very hopeless. Scared. Lost," Sara Weaver said in an interview with KXLY-TV in Spokane, Wash. "The most important thing to me had been ripped away."
Instant family caretaker
Eleven tense days later, it was over. Randy went to jail, charged with the murder of a federal agent.
Sara Weaver, 10-year-old Rachel, and baby Elisheba left their home and went to live with family in Iowa.
"I instantly became the caretaker of my family," she said. "I was in the mind frame that, if I'm taking care of everyone else, no one can tell me what to do. I was very rebellious, very angry."
Sara Weaver went through the motions, graduated from high school and moved back to the mountains she loved. She settled in Montana, got married, had a son. But the scars of Ruby Ridge remained.
"I was miserable all the time, just sad and depressed," she said. "I had never dealt with all the feelings and emotions that came from the trauma I experienced. I just stuffed them and ran away from them."
But then Sara Weaver found comfort in something she'd abandoned years before: a Bible verse, one she'd memorized all those years ago.
" 'For God so love the world he gave his only begotten son, So that whomever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.' That moment, I felt God's love pour out from heaven," she said. "I started bawling, I knew Jesus was real. That he loved me."
'Not the legacy I wanted to leave my son'
Sara's life changed completely. She had a new reason to live, and a new challenge before her.
"Three or four years ago, I Googled my name and what was tied to that was not the legacy I wanted to leave my son," she said.
Hate groups and anti-government conspiracy theorists like to invoke the Weaver name. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he said he did it with the Weavers in mind.
"I didn't want my name tied to - to give anyone reason to act out in any kind of violence in my name," Sara Weaver said.
Sara says she's still a work in progress, still close to her family who live nearby. And dad Randy, now a grandfather and cleared of the most serious criminal charges, is a frequent babysitter.
Sara Weaver speaks publicly at churches and other organizations about her experience. Her book "From Ruby Ridge to Freedom" will be published this summer.