Attorneys for FBI sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi, the lone individual defendant in wrongful-death lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians against the government, asked U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco Wednesday to dismiss him from the suit.
The motion, filed by Department of Justice attorneys, argues there is no evidence that Horiuchi - who in 1992 shot and killed the wife of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge - fired a shot at Mount Carmel on the day of the fire that led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.
"SA (Special Agent) Horiuchi did not fire a weapon at the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, 1993," the motion asserts.
The plaintiffs claim the FBI's aerial infrared surveillance tapes offer proof that FBI agents fired into Mount Carmel as it burned, cutting off the Davidians' only route of escape.
Horiuchi, however, submitted a sworn statement denying firing a shot. He wrote that he saw a combat engineering vehicle (CEV) begin punching holes in Mount Carmel to insert tear gas at 6 a.m. on April 19. At that time, he heard popping noises, which he recognized as gunfire, coming from the residence, Horiuchi wrote. But he denied firing back.
"Through my binoculars, I saw green tracer rounds bouncing off the CEV from an unknown location," Horiuchi said. "I did not see any muzzle flashes. Shortly thereafter, I radioed to the Tactical Operation Center the codeword 'compromise' indicating that FBI personnel had been subjected to hostile gunfire. I was unable to locate a specific target and did not fire my weapon."
A sworn statement from FBI Special Agent Charles Riley, included in the motion, disputes a 1993 FBI after-action report quoting him as reporting that he heard gunshots coming from the sniper position manned by Horiuchi. Smith noted Riley's report in leaving Horiuchi in the lawsuit as a defendant.
But Riley contends in his sworn statement that his report was written by an agent who interviewed him over the telephone and incorrectly wrote down his recollections. He didn't read the report for accuracy, Riley wrote. "I never told the interviewing agent that I heard "shots being fired from position number 1," wrote Riley, who was at a sniper post in front of Sierra-1. "I told the interviewing agent I heard gunshots fired from the compound and also reports from Sierra-1 (also known as sniper position No. 1) that shots had been fired from the compound." Sworn statements from several FBI snipers are included in the motion. All but Riley were at Sierra-1, a house approximately 330 yards from the front of Mount Carmel.
"All of the witnesses in close proximity to SA Horiuchi on April 19, 1993 testified that he did not fire his weapon," the motion said. Christopher Curran, now a supervisor for the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group, was at Sierra-1 with Horiuchi. In his sworn statement, Curran said he was stationed about five feet to the right of Horiuchi, who was visible to him throughout the operation. "I neither observed nor heard SA Horiuchi fire any shots on April 19, 1993," Curran wrote. "I also observed no armed subjects during the operation and consequently fired no shots."
Justice Department attorneys noted that in leaving Horiuchi in the lawsuit, Smith mentioned the controversy over the infrared tapes and whether they show flashes that appear to be gunfire. Even if the flashes are gunfire, the motion stated, they aren't evidence that Horiuchi fired any shots at Mount Carmel.
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