FEBRUARY 28TH CHRONOLOGY
This chronology is largely drawn from the Treasury Department report Appendix
D or from sources referenced below.
7:45--KWTX-TV reporter and cameraman arrive near Mount Carmel.
8:00--Undercover agent Robert Rodriguez enters Mount Carmel for Bible study. Raid Commander Chuck Sarabyn briefs BATF convoy at Bellmead Civic Center.
8:30--A second KWTX-TV cameraman warns postman David Jones, a Branch Davidian, that a "shootout" with helicopters is about to occur. Jones returns to Mount Carmel and warns Koresh.
8:45--Three Waco Tribune-Herald cars arrive nearby Mount Carmel.
9:05--Rodriguez leaves Mount Carmel, hurries to undercover house across the street, calls raid Commander Sarabyn and tells him that Koresh knows about impending raid. Commanders Sarabyn and Phillip Chojnacki and SAC Ted Royster decide to go ahead with raid.
9:10--Chojnacki calls BATF National Command Center in Washington and informs them operation is a "go."
9:25--Sarabyn arrives at Bellmead, announces operation is to proceed, tells agents, "Hurry. They know we're coming." BATF agents board cattle trailers.
9:26--Three helicopters carrying Chojnacki, Royster, Aguilera, and six other agents are on the way to Mount Carmel to create a "diversion." KWTX-TV's reporter and camerman allege helicopters circle Mount Carmel three times shortly thereafter.
9:45--Cattle trailers enter driveway of Mount Carmel, followed by KWTX-TV vehicle.
9:47--Unarmed David Koresh and Perry Jones come to front door (actually a set of double doors) and BATF agents fire on them. Helicopters approach back of building and start shooting at Davidians. KWTX-TV crew takes cover behind bus.
9:48--Wayne Martin calls 9-1-1 to report 75 armed men are attacking Mount Carmel. Sheriff's Lieutenant Larry Lynch responds. Nineteen attempts to reach ATF fail because the BATF contact had turned off his radio.
9:55--Associate Director Hartnett and Director Higgins are informed agents are under fire.
10:03--Lynch calls back Mount Carmel after disconnection and talks continue. Martin complains about shooting from helicopters.
10:20--When a patrolman drives to the command post to alert Chojnacki, Lynch finally is put in contact with BATF and begins negotiating between Davidians and BATF agents.
10:49--9-1-1 call disconnects. Lynch gives Koresh's cellular phone number to Royster who passes it to agent Cavanaugh at the undercover house.*
10:59--Lynch negotiates with Martin and Schneider on one line and Chojnacki and Royster on the other.
11:27--Cavanaugh finds telephone number on undercover house refrigerator door and calls into Mount Carmel and continues negotiations.*
11:30--Hartnett unilaterally requests FBI Hostage Rescue Team support.
11:39--Agents move in to pick up wounded and dead agents.
11:54--Ambulance moves in to pick up agents.
12:37--Lynch gives Davidian Steve Schneider Cavanaugh's phone number and direct contact is established.*
12:45 p.m. Approx.--BATF agents physically assault KWTX-TV cameraman taking pictures of dead agents.
Mid-afternoon--Davidian Donald Bunds arrested as he tries to return to Mount Carmel by car.
4:55--Agents fire on three Davidians trying to re-enter the Mount Carmel property. Michael Schroeder is killed. Norman Allison arrested. Bob Kendrick escapes.
6:00--Armored vehicles enter the property.
March 1, 1993
5:30 a.m.--FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Jamar arrives at command post. Royster holds first BATF press conference.
10:00 a.m.--Hartnett and FBI Hostage Rescue Team arrive via FBI Hostage Rescue Team plane. FBI takes charge.
* Seeming conflicts occur between accounts in Treasury report text and Chronology in Appendix D.
BATF AGENTS EXPECTED A SHOOTOUT
There is ample evidence that BATF agents expected a shootout--something that only would have made them nervous and possibly trigger happy as they approached Mount Carmel Center.
BATF Commanders Warned Agents Davidians "Dangerous"
The morning of the raid many agents read the Waco Tribune-Herald's February 27th "The Sinful Messiah" story and raid co-commander Chuck Sarabyn discussed the article with them during a briefing.1/ The story was filled with cult buster accusations that the Davidians were dangerous fanatics. In closing trial arguments attorney Steve Rosen stressed that BATF raid planners kept telling agents they would be dealing with "cultists" in a "compound" not residents of a home and church and that agents had been "trained to hate."2/
During the trial BATF agent Eric Evers testified that he remembered a briefing before the raid in which agents were told that a number of the people at Mount Carmel wanted to "come out" of Mount Carmel but were somehow being prevented.3/ Agent Lowell Sprague testified that the raid planners thought there were weapons in the compound and that Davidians would "make a stand based on their religious beliefs."4/ And agent Ballesteros disclosed that BATF agents had been briefed that they would encounter 20 to 30 or more "Mighty Men." He said, "We anticipated we would be met with force."5/
Perhaps the clearest evidence that raid planners expected a shootout is that BATF agents were told to mark their blood types on their necks for medical purposes if they were wounded, an instruction they had never received before. Treasury report reviewer Captain John Kolman noted that this had an "adverse psychological effect on team members."6/
Newsman Warned Davidian About Expected Shootout
Just before the raid, Davidians learned that they were facing not a service of warrants, but a shootout. KWTX-TV cameraman James Peeler asked directions of Davidian David Jones, who was driving his postal truck. Koresh's attorney Dick DeGuerin told reporters that Peeler told Jones, "Well, you better get out of here because there's a National Guard helicopter over at TSTC [Texas State Technical College] and they're going to have a big shootout with the religious nuts."7/ Peeler was distressed to see Jones immediately drive to Mount Carmel Center and left the area to call his superiors.8/
According to the Treasury report, Jones told DeGuerin that "Peeler warned him not to go near the Compound as there were going to be `60 to 70 TABC (Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission) guys in helicopters and a shoot-out would occur'." And Peeler himself confessed to the Treasury review team that he had told Jones there would be "some type of law enforcement action" and that "the action was likely to be a raid of some type and that there might be shooting."9/
KWTX-TV cameraman Dan Mulloney testified that KWTX-TV's initial information came from law enforcement agents he refused to name--something the Treasury report failed to reveal--as well as from a private ambulance driver working with BATF. (Similarly, BATF agent Ballesteros admitted that it was non-BATF law enforcement that tipped off the Waco Tribune-Herald.)10/ Therefore, BATF agents' expectations of a shootout were directly transmitted to the Davidians.
Most Agents Knew About "Loss of Surprise"
After Jones discovered that a raid was imminent, he rushed back to Mount Carmel and told Koresh. Undercover agent Robert Rodriguez alleged that after Koresh learned of the impending assault, Koresh told him "they're coming" and mentioned BATF and the National Guard. Rodriguez hurried across the street to the undercover house, called raid co-commander Chuck Sarabyn and repeated these statements.
After consulting with co-commander Phillip Chojnacki, Sarabyn decided to go forward with the raid anyway. He dashed out to the staging area shouting, "Get ready to go, they know we're coming!" and "Koresh knows the ATF and National Guard are coming!"11/ According to the Treasury report, "Over sixty agents who heard Sarabyn on the day have since recounted" that they heard him give these warnings.12/ On top of the propaganda they had absorbed about the Davidians' "ferocity," this information must have unnerved many agents.
BATF AGENTS DID NOT BRING OR ANNOUNCE WARRANTS
During the trial it became evident that none of the more than two dozen
BATF agents who took the stand had a copy of the warrants, had seen them,
knew what was in them, knew what they were searching for, or had any idea
who did.13/ One defense attorney asked an agent if they were supposed
to just "rummage around" since they did not even know what they were looking
for.14/ The government never has revealed if BATF observers or prosecutors
had the warrants and many suspect the warrants were left behind.
Right after the raid BATF spokesperson Jack Killorin told USA Today, "We needed 60 seconds of them not being prepared and we would have neutralized the compound and gotten the children out."15/ However, 60 seconds is barely time for an agent to walk to the front door of a large building, knock, wait for an adult to answer the door and formally announce that he was there to serve warrants.
BATF agent Roland Ballesteros, the first to approach the front door, revealed that no agent had been designated to announce the purpose of the raid. "Basically, we all announced. We practiced knocking, announcing, and then going through the front door." Ballesteros testified he saw Koresh in the doorway, and yelled, "Police, lay down!" He said Koresh answered, "What's going on?" He yelled back, "Search warrant, lay down." However, defense attorneys pointed out that this was the first time he had mentioned announcing he was serving a search warrant.
During Ballesteros' February 28, 1993 interview with the Waco police, his March 10th interview with the Texas Rangers, and a September 30th pre-trial hearing, he did not mention these "facts." Ballesteros testified he had changed his story because during earlier testimony that pain killers from a raid-related wound had dulled his memory.16/
While several agents asserted they had yelled, "Police!" or "ATF," at least three--Clay Alexander, Lowell Sprague and Kenneth King--conceded they had not done so--nor had they heard anyone else do so. In fact, Alexander admitted he never had been instructed to announce anything, despite the fact he would be among the first to get to the front door.17/
BATF agent Robert Champion also testified at trial that agents had identified themselves as police with a search warrant. Again, he had not told this to Texas Rangers in March. When questioned by defense attorneys, Champion said the Texas Rangers had not specifically queried him about that issue.18/ Agent Kris Mayfield, who was close to the front door, said he did not hear such an announcement.19/
It is clear the Davidians had no idea who was attacking them. Koresh had heard it was either BATF or TABC that was about to raid him. (Undercover agent Rodriguez says he mentioned the National Guard and Davidian Graeme Craddock is sure he mentioned the FBI.20/) On the 9-1-1 tape Koresh infers that he believes it is local law enforcement attacking him: "We told you we wanted to talk. No. How come you guys try to be ATF agents?" On the same 9-1-1 tape Davidian attorney Wayne Martin complains, "They never told us who they were. . .They never I.D.'d themselves."
The government's star witness, Davidian Kathryn Schroeder, testified at trial that although her room was on the first floor, near the front door, she did not hear shouts of "police" or "federal agents." Nor could she see any writing or badges on the uniforms until the agents began leaving and she saw the "ATF" letters on the back of their coats.21/ Davidian prisoner Kevin Whitecliff stated at sentencing, "I thought they must be some kind of renegades, some kind of anti-Christian group."22/
Agent Bill Buford, who was in the team that went in the second story window, disclosed that agents were authorized to shoot anyone inside who was carrying a weapon--even though agents had not announced that they were police or serving a search warrant. Buford revealed he did in fact shoot a Davidian who approached him carrying a gun.23/
BATF USED EXCESSIVE FORCE
BATF's executing search and arrest warrants upon the Branch Davidians with 76 heavily armed agents utilizing a plan which provided no opportunity for peaceful cooperation by itself constituted an excessive use of force, irregardless of who shot first. Nevertheless, during the trial BATF agent Gerald Petrilli declared there should have been more agents, stating he felt 20 agents for each 2,500 square feet of building is appropriate.24/
BATF Had No Plan to Server Warrants Peacefully
Nothing in Aguilera's affidavit indicated that Koresh or his followers would use force to resist service of search and arrest warrants. Nor did the magistrate give the necessary explicit permission for such a "no knock" warrant which would permit agents to bypass giving notice that they were serving a search warrant. Title 18, U.S.C. 3109 states that an officer must give notice of his legal authority and purpose before attempting to enter the premises.
Early in the trial BATF agent Ballesteros acknowledged that BATF planners never had a plan for peacefully serving the search and arrest warrants. Specifically asked by a defense attorney if he ever rehearsed a peacefully entry, he answered, "No, we did not." Instead in their 15 to 20 practice raids on a mock-up of Mount Carmel, agents only had been instructed in how to scale ladders, smash into rooms, throw concussion grenades and shoot. Ballesteros himself was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun, 9-millimeter pistol and a .38 caliber handgun. One agent carried a battering ram.25/
Even if Koresh had thrown himself to the ground in surrender, the assault would have continued. Agent Kenneth King admitted that the two roof teams--which never announced that they were BATF agents or had a search warrant--had received no such instructions to stop their assault on the second floor arms room.26/
Agents Carried High Powered Weapons
BATF Chief of Special Operations Richard L. Garner described to a congressional committee the arms carried by 76 agents: every agent had a Sig Sauer 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol; snipers were equipped with .308 caliber high power sniper rifles; agents also carried 8 AR-15s and 12 shotguns.27/ Twenty-seven agents carried tactical carbine Heckler & Koch MP-5 9-millimeter "semi-automatics" or "sub-machineguns." During the trial several BATF agents adamantly refused to acknowledge that the MP-5s they carried were fully automatic. However, because it fires a two shot burst, under law it is a machinegun.28/ Only law enforcement is allowed to use silencers on these weapons, which gives agents the ability to shoot first and deny it.
The 9-millimeter hydroshock rounds BATF used in the MP-5s are highly penetrating rounds available only to law enforcement special operations teams and the military. They expand when they hit the human body, destroying large areas of flesh, as opposed to merely passing through the body.29/ During the trial a defense attorney repeatedly questioned FBI agent James Cadigan about hydroshock bullets. Finally, he gave a testy response. "They're designed to kill, disable, wound, destroy whatever they hit."30/ According to two Davidian attorneys, Dick DeGuerin and Douglas Tinker, hydroshocks are outlawed for use by the military. These hydroshock bullets killed Davidians Jaydean Wendell, Peter Gent, Michael Schroeder and probably Perry Jones.31/
Agents Mounted Terrifying Attack
News reports describe the attack: "According to witnesses, federal agents hid in livestock trailers as they drove up to the compound. As three National Guard helicopters approached, the 100 law officers stormed the main home, throwing concussion grenades and screaming `Come out!'"32/
Attorney Dick DeGuerin asserted: "These two cattle trailers roar up, and people start screaming out of the back of them, screaming at the tops of their lungs, not anything like, `This is a search' or `We're agents' or `Put up your hands' or anything like that. It was just screaming, yelling, like Marines storming the beach."33/
During the trial the three Davidian women who cooperated with prosecutors all supported the central defense contention: that Davidians were terrified of the raid and acted in self-defense. All three women testified about dark-clad men rushing the building, guns ablazing, and unprepared and terrified women and children screaming and running for safety under beds and into hallways.34/
Agents Threw Flash-Bang Grenades into Building
Agents also carried "flash-bang" grenades which explode with noise, smoke and flashes of light. BATF claims they are harmless "diversionary devices" which cause only temporary discomfort. Nevertheless, civilians can be prosecuted for having flash-bangs. At trial defense attorneys called Sandra Sawyer, of Denver, Colorado, who testified about injuries she received when a flash-bang device was used by police during a raid on a friend's home--the device nearly severed Sawyer's right arm.35/
Agents threw at least five flash-bangs into the building on February 28th. KWTX-TV video tape shows an agent on the roof throwing a flash-bang into the second floor arms room moments after three agents entered it. Agent Kenneth King disclosed that throwing a flash-bang into the windows of both second story rooms was part of their original plan, though he never got a chance to throw his.36/
KWTX-TV video tape also shows an agent breaking the ground floor window of the church chapel and throwing two such flash-bangs into it--possibly a first in American history. Agent Mayfield testified during the trial that he tried to throw a flash-bang into a lower story window in the front of the building, but it bounced back out and exploded in the yard beside him. He was successful in lobbing a second flash-bang into the building.37/ And agent Kevin Richardson also admitted to "placing" a flash-bang in the same window into which Mayfield had thrown one.38/
At trial agent Bill Buford conceded that flash-bangs could start a fire and that agents had a fire extinguisher on the ground just in case.39/ Davidians claim that the flash-bang grenade thrown into the second floor window made a big, jagged hole and did in fact start a small fire which they had to put out.40/ Colonel Jack Zimmermann, deceased Davidian Steve Schneider's attorney, inspected that hole when he visited Mount Carmel during the siege. From his extensive military experience he concluded, and testified at trial, that BATF agent Kenneth King threw not a flash-bang but an even more dangerous and destructive concussion grenade into the room. He believed only that kind of grenade could have created such a large hole.41/ If BATF agents had in fact used a concussion grenade, that would be one more piece of evidence that BATF would have wanted destroyed.
Agents Shot Dogs
The Davidians kept five family dogs--Fawn, Bear, Bandit, Wolfie and Rascal--in a pen to the west side of the front door. Even though none of the dogs were vicious, BATF's original plan was to shoot the dogs if they could not be subdued--even if Davidians surrendered immediately. Once the gunfire started, agents testified to shooting at dogs they thought were trying to escape from the pen.42/ One aerial photo taken right after the raid shows a line of five dead dogs in the front yard.43/
EVIDENCE BATF SHOT FIRST
The original BATF plan for ground agents was that while helicopters created
a diversion, one team of three agents would smash through the front door
while another team of three agents would spray a fire extinguisher at or,
if necessary shoot, the dogs in the dog pen near the front door.
A second team would go to the tornado shelter to arrest men working there,
and two more would climb to the Koresh's second floor rooms, break the
windows, throw in flash-bangs, and enter.44/
Evidence provided during the trial did not answer definitively the question of who shot first or where in the front of the building. However, it does suggest that first shots came either from agents in helicopters at the back of the building or from an agent accidently shooting a bullet as he exited a trailer--these shots (or the sound of agents spraying dogs with the fire extinquishers) probably prompted nervous agents to shoot at the unarmed David Koresh as he stood in the front door.45/ This chapter will deal with the shooting at the front door. The next will review evidence agents shot from helicopters.
BATF Agents Confused, Anxious and Excited
Obvious flaws in raid planning may have heightened agents' anxiety. According to the Treasury report, there never had been a contingency plan for armed resistance, bad weather, the loss of surprise or retreat. The commanders of the raid were in a helicopter and a cattle truck where they could not communicate effectively with agents. Two-way radio communications quickly broke down between agents.46/
During the trial BATF agent Barbara Maxwell testified the contingency plan was to retreat without returning fire if the Davidians began shooting, but that some agents were confused about the contingency plans.47/ Agent Rolland Ballesteros confessed at trial that he was "excited" at the prospect of taking on the Davidians.48/ Doubtless other agents felt the same.
A Houston Post reporter wrote, "Unless you have a very disciplined group, you can expect all hell to break loose once any shot is fired; and according to Charles Beckwith, a retired army colonel and founder of the military's anti-terrorist Delta Force, the ATF's raid was `very amateur.'"49/
Davidians in the back of the building who saw the helicopters approaching believe agents in helicopters shot first. Those in the front of the building support Koresh's version of events, described to a KRLD radio reporter: "I had the front door open so they could clearly see me. And then what happened was, I told them, I said `Get back. There's women and children here. Get back. I want to talk.' And all of the sudden 9-millimeter rounds started firing at the front wall. . .They hit the metal doors which deflected them. I had my face out where they could see me. And then I moved back, and all of a sudden the guy started firing." Koresh told CNN, "They fired on us first. Like I said, they were scared." He blamed BATF's agents' fear on the "rumors going `round." Koresh was wounded in the arm. His father-in-law Perry Jones was mortally wounded in the abdomen.50/
Davidian Jaime Castillo, who approached the front door from the west hallway as the firing began, told a Texas Ranger that BATF agents fired first as Koresh closed the door.51/ Brad Branch, who was right behind Koresh claims he saw one agents shoot a dog. Panicked agents then shot at the door. Clive Doyle told reporter James Pate, "The first shots were fired outside."52/ During his grand jury testimony Graeme Craddock also asserted that the first volley of gunfire "appeared to come from outside."53/ Just 15 minutes after the raid began, Davidian Wayne Martin, an attorney, told 9-1-1 Sheriff's Lieutenant Larry Lynch, "I have a right to defend myself. They started firing first." He demanded the BATF agents be arrested.
BATF Agents' Conflicting Testimony
BATF agents told conflicting stories about where the first shots came from and who shot them. Moreover, some agents changed their trial testimony from that which they gave Texas Rangers immediately after the raid. The Treasury report seems to have been written to explain away some inconsistencies, such as agent statements regarding firing at the dogs: "As they left the trailer, the agents heard gunfire. At first, the agents thought it came from the dog teams. During training the agents had been told that they might hear the dog teams firing at the dogs if they were not able to subdue them with fire extinguishers."54/ However, in trial testimony, while several agents mentioned seeing the fire extinguisher go off, none mentioned seeing the first shots come from agents shooting at the dogs. If Brad Branch's account is correct, agents would be strongly motivated to change their testimony.
The first six BATF agents who exited the back of cattle trailer closest to the front door were members of the entry team and the dog team. Entry team member agent Rolland Ballesteros, the first to arrive at the front door, gave trial testimony different from his statements to Texas Rangers and Waco police right after the raid. He told Rangers that he thought agents shooting at the Davidians' dogs fired the first shot. At trial he changed his story and testified that the Davidians shot first through the front door, "ambushing" them. Ballesteros claimed he saw wooden splinters coming from the door. When a defense attorney pointed out the doors were metal, Ballesteros replied, "It was something exiting." While he confessed he did alter his story after talking with other agents, he blamed medication for impairing his memory. He also asserted that no one had ever asked him some questions asked at trial.55/
Agent Kris Mayfield, who was in Ballesteros' team, said he heard the first shots from the northwest end of Mount Carmel, not from the front door.56/ Kevin Richardson, in the same team, also first heard shots from the northwest corner of the building.57/ Their testimony suggests that the first firing might well have come from helicopters, as several Davidians claim.
Two members of the dog team, right behind the first team, also told different stories. Robert Champion claimed that after testing his fire extinguisher, he heard gunfire from the front door. Both he and agent Steven Willis shot back. Clay Alexander first heard gunfire from the second story of Mount Carmel, to the right of the front door.58/
Some speculated an agent exiting the first cattle trailer truck, which stopped near the tornado shelter, accidently shot the first shot which entered into the second trailer truck behind it. Agent Mike Curtis, who was driving the second truck, reluctantly testified that as he stopped and jumped out of his truck, a bullet came through the front window and straight out the back, as if fired from the cattle trailer in front of him.59/
Non-Agents' Dubious Testimony
BATF officials often stress that two non-agents testified they thought shots first came from inside Mount Carmel. Waco Tribune-Herald reporter Marc Masferrer, who conceded he had no prior ballistics training, was about 300 yards south of Mount Carmel at the time. A defense attorney commented, "At that distance, those people would look like ants."60/ KWTX-TV cameraman Dan Mulloney, who was driving up the driveway at that point, testified that "gunfire originated inside the compound." He admitted under cross-examination that this was merely his opinion.61/
BATF/FBI "Lost" Davidians' Front Door
The pro-BATF television movie, "In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco," shows a line of eight to ten armed Davidians firing out at BATF agents as they begin their raid on the front of the building. Davidians claim the first shots were fired at David Koresh and entered through the front door. It becomes clear the movie's dramatic image is a BATF-inspired lie when one realizes that the two most significant pieces of evidence that it was BATF who shot first--half the front door and Perry Jones autopsy report--are missing or falsified.
The Waco Tribune-Herald photos taken within 20 to 30 seconds of the first shots show no barrage of larger holes as would be expected if the Davidians had fired out at the agents. There was certainly no indication that "the force of the gunfire was so great that the door bowed outward," as the Treasury report puts it. During the trial attorney Jack Zimmermann, who had an opportunity to examine the hollow metal front doors before the fire, testified that one door had a "spray pattern" of holes made by bullets fired into the house and no bullet holes going out.62/
Early in the trial Texas Ranger Fred Cummings disclosed that the half of the front door which allegedly had been hit by the most gunfire from the outside was missing! He revealed that he did not start his search of the area where the one door was found until April 22nd, three days after the fire, and that the door was not found until April 24th. When the other half of the double doors was brought into court it was discovered to have four bullets holes directed inward and nine bullet holes directed outward. Attorneys noted that the missing door took more gunfire than the one that was found.63/
Later in the trial FBI agent R. J. Craig said his tank knocked down the front doors and dragged them away from the building. Photos taken during the fire showed that the doors were well away from the building.64/
Texas Ranger David A. Byrnes acknowledged that there were a "couple of hours" between the fire and the time Texas Rangers took control during which FBI and ATF agents "could have had access." Ranger Cummings confirmed that in the days before he found the door FBI agents loaded "trash" into a giant dumpster. It was hauled off before defense attorneys were allowed to visit the site.65/
Many suspect BATF and/or FBI agents destroyed this crucial piece of evidence. After the trial one juror told reporters that the missing door was an important issue to jurors. It might not have proved definitively who shot first, but it might have indicated "how much of a barrage was headed in which direction" in the first minutes of the raid.66/
Questionable Perry Jones Autopsy
Something which has received less publicity than the missing door, but is equally damning, is an inaccurate autopsy report on Koresh's father-in-law Perry Jones. Davidian survivors claim the unarmed Jones, standing next to Koresh when he opened the front door, was hit in the abdomen by the first barrage of bullets.67/ In the March 8th home movie Davidians sent to the FBI, Rachel Jones Koresh says, "Thanks a lot for killing my dad. He was an unarmed man. And you guys just shot him through the door and killed him."
Clive Doyle describes how, after he heard David Koresh beg BATF agents to talk, he heard gun shots and ran down the hall. "I found Perry Jones laying in the hall crying in great pain, saying he had been shot. Perry Jones was an older man in his sixties. He apparently had been standing behind David as David opened the door. . .We helped Perry up into the north end of the building, where the men's quarters were, and put him on a bunk bed away from the front wall where the bullets were continuing to fire. Perry was in great pain."68/
However, the medical examiner and Treasury report describes only one wound for Jones--a bullet through the brain, from one shot to the mouth. The type of weapon and ammunition used are listed as "unknown."69/ Kathryn Schroeder testified at trial she heard the now-deceased Neil Vaega ask David Koresh for "permission to finish off" Perry Jones, so it is not clear if Jones committed suicide or died from a mercy killing. Schroeder testified she believed the government was about to kill them all; believing the same, Jones probably decided to die immediately.)70/ It is doubtful Jones would have committed suicide, or Vaega would have had to resort to a mercy killing, unless Jones was severely wounded.
The official autopsy report by Marc A. Krouse, M.D. describes a man of Jones' age, height and hair color. Jones' body was buried in a shallow grave in the tornado shelter and was not touched by the fire. Krouse reported "no trauma" nor "evidence of fluid accumulation or hemorrhage within the major body cavities nor is there evidence of occult trauma." The stomach and intestines were "intact." Other evidence that this autopsy was botched is the finding Jones' body contained 52% percent monoxide saturation in the liver, consistent with smoke inhalation! While some believe the government purposely switched bodies to cover up evidence that BATF shot first and indiscriminately, fatally wounding the unarmed Perry Jones, others believe the medical examiners simply erred or lied.
Perry Jones' family members delayed in claiming Jones' body while trying to finance an independent autopsy to be done in conjunction with their civil law suit. Perry Jones' body and that of 29 other Davidians were being kept by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office in Fort Worth, supposedly in a special refrigeration unit meant to preserve the remains. As late as August, 1993 Davidian survivor Clive Doyle was told that he could not view the remains because it might jeopardize the refrigeration process. However, in October, 1993 Davidians discovered that in the spring of 1993, right after former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark took on the Jones' and other family lawsuits, the medical examiner's office "accidently" turned off the refrigeration. The bodies were nearly totally decomposed and consumed by maggots. Pathologist Rodney Crowe described them as being "pieces of sludge."71/
Suspicions about Unreleased BATF Video Tape
Both Waco television station KWTX-TV and BATF videotaped the February 28th raid. KWTX-TV had not yet set up their camera when the first shots were fired and has no relevant footage. Soon after the raid, BATF Associate Director Edward Conroy said a video tape taken from a BATF helicopter during the raid might help clarify the question of who fired the first shots. David Koresh told negotiators that when he stepped out on to the front porch to beg BATF agents to call it off, "I saw the guys right across the street when I was on the front porch over there taping it." He referred to agents in the undercover house directly across the street. In April, 1993 Davidian attorneys succeeded in having U.S. District Court Judge Walter A. Smith, Jr.--who later presided over the trial--order that all BATF audio and video tapes be preserved. However, he allowed them to remain in BATF's hands.72/
BATF never has released any video from the beginning of the raid, though some taken at the end from helicopters has been televised. At trial BATF agents and National Guardsmen revealed there were two video cameras in the undercover house itself and three or more video cameras in the helicopters. But they could provide no credible excuses for the failure to obtain footage of the beginning of the raid.
A Texas Ranger testified that there was a video camera in a communications van near the undercover house; he did not identify its owner. Undercover agent Robert Rodriquez stated that there were a number of agents in the undercover house the night before the raid, including those there assigned to photograph the arrival of the agents and the raid. No one from the undercover house was called to the stand to explain why they did not perform their duty. Rodriguez said that he assumed that "when all hell broke out, everybody forgot about the video and camera, nothing was used." However, he could not explain why agents were not filming before the shooting started.73/
National Guard pilot Doyle Stone testified recording ended in his helicopter because they were scared when Davidians started firing at the helicopters and stopped running their forward looking infrared camera. (That camera probably was brought to help detect the alleged metamphetamine laboratory.) Pilot Bryan Dickens revealed that he saw several BATF agents with camcorders get into the big Blackhawk helicopter. Yet prosecutors gave little film to defense attorneys, and most of that contained numerous cuts. Pilot Jerry Seagraves claimed that the cuts in the film were explained by the fact agents did not want to waste film.74/
Knowing that BATF agents might well have video footage of agents firing at the front door first or firing from helicopters, defense attorneys complained bitterly about this missing video tape and demanded prosecutors provide it. During closing arguments one attorney asserted, "There is absolutely no explanation of why we don't have those video tapes and still photographs of actually (sic) the arrival of the agents at the front door. You know those were taken, ladies and gentlemen, you know they were." Another told jurors, "If David Koresh didn't walk out that door unarmed, you can be sure that video would be in your face right now."75/ According to jury forewoman Sarah Bain, jurors found it particularly suspicious that BATF did not produce the video tapes at trial.76/
EVIDENCE AGENTS SHOT INDISCRIMINATELY
The Treasury report states that BATF agents "returned fire when possible,
but conserved their ammunition. They also fired only when they saw
an individual engage in a threatening action, such as pointing a weapon."77/
Both BATF Director Higgins at an April 2, 1993 congressional hearing and
Treasury Secretary Bentsen during the September, 1993 Treasury Department
press conference, denied allegations that agents fired indiscriminately.78/
Higgins and Bentsen knew that any agent who was shown to have violated guidelines against indiscriminate firing could be disciplined; if it was proved that agents injured or killed someone while violating this policy, even if they shot in self-defense, they could be charged with assault or manslaughter; and if it was proved that they were shooting in revenge for the wounding or death of fellow officers, they could be charged with intentional homicide.79/ Although evidence abounds that many agents fired indiscriminately, none have been disciplined or prosecuted.
Agents Admitted Indiscriminate Fire
Agent Sprague, when asked to define what he termed as threats at which he would shoot, described a pair of hands in a window, a pair of arms, and curtains moving--he fired at all of them.80/ Agent Timothy Gabourie confessed that since he was not wearing a helmet and didn't want to raise his head over the side of the truck, he drew his 9-millimeter pistol and fired 25 to 30 shots into the building without looking. He described this dangerous technique as "point and shoot" and admitted he had not learned this technique from either the National Guard or BATF.81/ As we have seen, agent Barbara Maxwell acknowledged agents were firing indiscriminately through walls and windows.
At trial Texas Rangers testified that BATF agents in the undercover house 300 yards south of Mount Carmel were firing at the building. Rangers collected more than 70 used shell casings from in and around the undercover house.82/ Reporter Marc Masferrer testified that he observed firing from the BATF undercover house.83/ Agents firing from such a distance could not have fired with great discrimination and a Texas Ranger reluctantly agreed such "friendly fire" from the undercover house could have struck the driver's door of one of the BATF pickup trucks that pulled cattle trailers on February 28th.84/ Since the door was not facing Mount Carmel, there is no other explanation.
KWTX-TV television video tape clearly shows that agents were exercising little control over their firing as they fired over vehicles with little or no view of their targets. At one point, an agent clearly can be heard saying, "Too much wild fire." Again, we do not know how much footage damaging to BATF KWTX-TV may have been edited out.
Davidians Described Indiscriminate Fire
During the trial Kathryn Schroeder described indiscriminate fire. She saw a bullet crash through her bedroom window 15 or 20 seconds after the first shots began; at least "half a dozen" shots smashed into her room.85/ Wayne Martin's wife Sheila Martin recalls crawling along the floor to pull her disabled young son Jaime from his bed near a window, as glass shattered on his body.86/ In the March 8th home movie, Koresh's eight-year-old son Cyrus and eight-year-old Joseph Martinez describe bullets smashing through the walls and lodging in the floor of their room, just a few feet from where the huddled for safety. At trial Davidian attorney Jack Zimmermann described bullet hole evidence of such indiscriminate fire throughout the building.87/
Clive Doyle told an interviewer: "I noticed a line of bullets down the hallway from the kitchen on down through the front door. It was if somebody with a machinegun on the outside blindly sprayed bullets, hoping to hit somebody running down the hall without being able to see them because there were no windows."88/
Treasury Department report, p. 82.
2. Trial transcript, pgs. 7174-76.
3. Ibid. p. 1559.
4. Ibid. p. 2251.
5. Ibid. p. 1287.
6. Ibid. p. 2055; John Kolman, "A Selective Analysis of Operation Trojan Horse," Treasury Department report, p. B-55.
7. Lee Hancock, "Television Photographer Says He Tipped Waco Cult," Washington Post, August 28, 1993.
8. Treasury Department report, p. 85.
10. Trial transcript, pgs. 1517-18, 3357.
11. Justice Department report, p. 91.
12. Ibid. p. 195.
13. Diana R. Fuentes, "Case may wrap up at end of February," San Antonio Express-News, February 6, 1994, 5B; James L. Pate, July, 1994, p. 47; my reading of trial transcripts.
14. Trial transcript, p. 2242.
15. USA Today, April 21, 1993, A4.
16. Trial transcript, pgs. 1387-99, 2099.
17. Ibid. pgs. 2133, 2170, 2243, 2560, 2585, 2098.
18. Ibid. pgs. 2095, 2098.
19. Ibid. pgs. 1974-77, 2133.
20. Ibid. pgs. 3394, 6384.
21. Clare Tuma report, "Court TV," February 3, 1994; trial transcript, p. 4462-68.
22. June 16, 1994 trial transcript, p. 143-44.
23. Trial transcript, pgs. 2732-33.
24. Teresa Talerico, "More forces needed on raid, agent says," Waco Tribune-Herald, January 25, 1994, 8A; trial transcript, p. 2344.
25. Trial transcript, pgs. 1287, 1333-35, 1361, 1380.
26. Ibid. p. 2577.
27. June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, p. 175.
28. Trial transcript, pgs. 2210-11, 2820, 3153, 6837; James L. Pate, private communication, June, 1994.
29. Jack DeVault, The Waco Whitewash, (San Antonio: Rescue Press, 1994), p. 71.
30. Trial transcript, p. 1235.
31. "Fire Power" video produced by National Endowment for Liberty, 1994; trial transcript, p. 1234; Treasury Department report, p. 104.
32. Associated Press wire story, February 28, 1993.
33. Daniel Wattenberg, p. 40.
34. Diana R. Fuentes, "Jury hears about raid, mass suicide plan," San Antonio Express-News, February 2, 1994; James L. Pate, "Judgement Day: The Waco Trial, Part II," Soldier of Fortune, June, 1994, p. 35; trial transcript, pgs. 4091-5; 4464-5.
35. Trial transcript, pgs. 6808-12.
36. Ibid. pgs. 2567-68.
37. Ibid. pgs. 1949-50.
38. Ibid. pgs. 1995, 2037.
39. Ibid. pgs. 2813-4.
40. Trial transcript, p. 4494; Jaime Castillo, private communication, September, 1994.
41. Trial transcript, p. 6613.
42. Ibid. pgs. 580, 2139, 2459, 2428-29.
43. Treasury Department report photograph, p. 99.
44. Trial transcript, pgs. 1369, 2062.
45. Ibid. p. 1377.
46. Treasury Department report, pgs. 143-156.
47. Trial transcript, pgs. 2280-88.
48. Ibid. p. 1359; Renos Avraam, private communication, June, 1994.
49. Houston Post, March 4, 1993, A20.
50. Jaime Castillo, private communication, January and February, 1995.
51. Trial transcript, p. 3053.
52. James L. Pate, July, 1994, p. 47; Brad Branch, private communication, July, 1995.
53. Trial transcript, p. 6392.
54. Treasury Department report, p. 98.
55. "Witness Says Cult Ambushed Agents but Acknowledges Blunders," New York Times, January, 19, 1994; trial transcript, pgs. 1291, 1295, 1314, 1319, 1382, 1401, 1509, 1461.
56. Trial transcript, pgs. 1937, 1943, 1981.
57. Ibid. p. 1990.
58. Ibid. pgs. 2059, 2064-7, 2069, 2071, 2135.
59. Ibid. pgs. 1833, 1834-35, 1845.
60. Scott W. Wright, "Agnets at Branch Davidian trial describe blitz of bullets at raid," Austin American-Statesman, January 21, 1994, B3; trial transcript, pgs. 1930-31.
61. "Agent Explains Why Cult Raid Was Moved Up," New York Times, January 28, 1994; trial transcript, p. 3307.
62. Trial transcript, p. 6594.
63. Ibid. pgs. 1070-73, 6120.
64. Ibid. pgs. 1073, 5535.
65. Ibid. pgs. 610, 1081.
66. Teresa Talerico, "Trial was grueling, juror says," Waco Tribune-Herald, March 3, 1994.
67. "3 Waco Cultists Shot Point Blank, Autopsies Show," Washington Post, July 15, 1993; New York Times, February 6, 1994; James L. Pate, July, 1994, p. 47.
68. Gary Null, "Holocaust at Waco," Penthouse Magazine, April, 1994, p. 32.
69. Treasury Department report, p. 104.
70. Teresa Talerico, "Cultist says deaths were biblical," Waco Tribune-Herald, February 4, 1994; trial transcript, pgs. 4476-77.
71. Sharon Fisher, Dewey Millay, Clive Doyle, and David Thibodeau, private communications, October, 1994; Ramsey Clark lawsuit, (February 25, 1995), p. 48.
72. Ken Fawcett, p. 44; Order, April 20, 1993, U.S. v. Vernon Wayne Howell, U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas, Waco Division; "FBI Places Full Blame on Koresh for Tragedy," Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1993, A6; Carol Moore review of section of negotiation audio tape.
73. Trial transcript, pgs. 688, 3424, 3553-56
74. Ibid. pgs. 688, 3182, 3213, 3235, 3293.
75. Ibid. pgs. 3248, 3553-56, 7097-98, 7178.
76. Sarah Bain, private communication, June, 1994.
77. Treasury Department report, p. 101.
78. "Sect's Lawyers Dispute Gunfight Details," New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10; transcript of September 30, 1993 Treasury Department press conference.
79. Kirk Lyons, private communication, June, 1994.
80. Trial transcript, pgs. 2241-42, 2252-53.
81. Ibid. pgs 2496-98.
82. Ibid. pgs. 1149-52.
83. Ibid. p. 1926.
84. Kathy Fair, January 15, 1994, 36A; trial transcript, pgs. 1116-22.
85. Trial transcript, p. 4464.
86. Sheila Martin, private communicatio, January, 1995.
87. Ibid. pgs. 6957-6602.
88. Gary Null, April, 1994, p. 32.