ST. LOUIS - An FBI photograph seems to discredit claims that flashes of light filmed during the 1993 assault on the Branch Davidian compound were gunfire from government agents, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday.
The Post-Dispatch said the surveillance photo appears to have been snapped within seconds of a flash that appears on a separate infrared tape at 11:24 a.m. on April 19, 1993.
The Branch Davidians and their experts claim flashes on the infrared film are muzzle flashes from FBI agents' guns. But the surveillance photo shows nobody near the flashes.
The picture is part of a batch of photos the government recently turned over to John Danforth, who was appointed last year to investigate whether the FBI tried to cover up its actions at the group's compound near Waco, Texas. The photos also were given to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith, who is presiding over a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Branch Davidian survivors. The FBI has admitted it fired incendiary tear-gas canisters into the compound the day a fire killed about 80 members of the sect but contends that people inside started the fire and agents did not fire weapons at them. The inferno ended a 51-day siege by federal agents trying to serve a warrant for the arrest of sect leader David Koresh on firearm and explosive charges. The seige was sparked when four agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were shot dead while trying to serve search warrants on the Branch Davidian compound.
Until recently, the infrared tape taken from one FBI plane flying about 9,000 feet over the compound and photographs taken from another plane at a lower altitude had not been compared.
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