Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Assault on Waco, Part 5

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 22:13:45 -0700
From: kevin@axon.cs.byu.edu (Kevin Vanhorn)
Subject: Waco article, part 5
To: libernet@Dartmouth.EDU

The Assault

Concurrent with the attack on the front of the Mt. Carmel complex were two other attacks on the Davidians.

According to Davidians who surrendered during the siege, the helicopters circling overhead fired down through the roof into the complex, killing one man and two women as they lay in their beds [64,72]. The children, whose dormitory was on the second floor, crawled under their beds as bullets ripped through the walls above them [15,25]. Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin viewed the inside of the complex after the raid, when federal officials allowed him to meet with the Davidians and try to persuade them to surrender. He reported seeing bullet holes on the second storey, clearly coming from the outside in, at such an angle that they could only have come from above the complex [64].

Moments after the assault began, an 8-man ATF team began ascending the roof near an upstairs window which they believed to be in the vicinity of Koresh's bedroom and weapons locker [12,15]. Video footage of the raid shows the agents breaking the window, tossing grenades inside, and indiscriminately spraying gunfire within.

A well-placed federal official told the Houston Post that at least 10 Davidians were killed in the battle. One of those confirmed dead was Koresh's two-year-old daughter [24]. Another was Winston Blake, a 28-year-old printer, painter, and welder; he was shot to death as he stood unarmed by the complex's water tank [40].

Four ATF agents were killed in the gunfight, and numerous wounded. Dan Hartnett, associate director of the ATF, claimed that the ATF suffered heavy casualties because of strict rules of engagement that prohibit shooting without a definite target. "We had to wait for a target because there are so many women and children inside," he said. But broadcast video of the raid shows agents exercising poor fire control, firing over vehicles with little or no view of what they were shooting at, at a rate of two rounds per second [11,27].

The ATF's concern for the women and children inside was further demonstrated by their use of the "9 mm. Cyclone" round in their submachine guns. This highly-penetrating round is available only to law-enforcement special operations teams and the military, and is specifically designed to cut through body armor [17].

Two separate federal sources told Soldier of Fortune magazine that such a round was removed from a wounded ATF agent, and that many, if not most, of the ATF casualties resulted from "friendly fire." [17] Newsweek also reported that a federal source involved in the Waco situation said that "there is evidence that supports the theory of friendly fire," and that during the assault "there was a huge amount of cross-fire." [8] Furthermore, in the released video footage of the raid, there is little or no evidence of return fire from the Davidians.

The attack terrified the Davidians, and they were eager for a cease-fire. Wayne Martin telephoned his friend, Waco city councilman Lawrence Johnson. According to Johnson, Martin said "they were in a firefight, they were taking casualties, and a lot of people were hurt. He asked me to contact the media." [42] The New York Times reported that after capturing four federal agents, the Davidians disarmed and released them during the firefight. And both Martin and Koresh phoned 911 about the attack.

ABC broadcast portions of the 911 tapes on its Nightline program. Martin phoned first and spoke with Lieutenant Lynch of the Waco Sheriff's Department. He told Lynch, "There's about 75 men around our building and they're shooting it up in Mt. Carmel... Tell them there are women and children in here and to call it off!" Calling it off took some time. During a later return phone call, even as Lynch and Martin were trying to arrange the cease-fire, Martin's location was receiving heavy gunfire and Martin himself was hit. When requested not to return fire, an unidentified Davidian replied in a disgusted tone, "We haven't been." [7]

In the end, it was not humanitarian concerns or negotiations that brought an end to the hour-long assault; it was lack of ammunition. The 100 agents who participated in the assault had a total of only 40 rounds left among them when they finally backed off [16].



No comments: