Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas

Court TV Documents, April 19, 1993

April 19

At 5:59 a.m., SSRA Sage called into the compound and told the person answering the telephone that it was very important that he speak with Schneider or Koresh. Another individual came to the telephone and Sage informed him that gas was about to be introduced; that it was not an assault; that no FBI agents would enter the compound; and that no one should fire weapons. The individual hung up the phone. Two CEVs, or Combat Engineering Vehicles, approached the compound to begin methodically injecting tear gas through spray nozzles attached to their booms.

At this point, SSRA Sage began reading a message over the loudspeaker system to those inside the compound, advising them to come out immediately and that they were now under arrest.

The plan to insert the gas was initiated at 6:02 a.m. At 6:04 a.m., the Davidians began shooting at, and hitting, the CEVs. Once the Davidians opened fire, the FBI was authorized to insert gas into the entire compound. The FBI began deploying "ferret" rounds (canisters containing gas) through the windows.

SSRA Sage continued broadcasting his announcement over the loudspeaker system while the armored vehicles continued to insert CS gas at intervals. The intervals occurred during the approximate one hour period that it took to reload the gas canisters in the vehicles. During these intervals Sage urged the people to come out before more gas was inserted. The Davidians continuing firing at the FBI vehicles.

At 6:41 a.m., someone threw the telephone outside the front door of the compound.

[Material redacted as required by statute.) At 9:47 a.m., an individual exited the compound and retrieved the telephone. However, the telephone lines had been cut, and contact was never re-established, despite the efforts of FBI technical personnel.

[Material redacted as required by statute.] At approximately 12:07 p.m., the Davidians started fires at three separate locations within the compound. At approximately the same time, an HRT observer saw a male starting a fire in the front side of the building. By 12:12 p.m., the compound was on fire in several locations.

At 12:12 p.m., SSRA Sage broadcasted an urgent message to Koresh not to put the people through this (the fire), and to lead them out to safety.

At 12:13 p.m., the FBI requested assistance from the fire department. At 12:16 p.m., a male left the compound from the second floor roof. At first, he refused assistance from the FBI.

Two minutes later he jumped off the roof and surrendered. Between 12:20 and 12:30, seven additional individuals came out of the compound and were arrested. At approximately 3:10 p.m., the last survivor emerged from the compound. A total of nine Davidians survived the fire.

One woman left the compound, saw the FBI vehicles, then ran back into the blazing compound. An HRT agent risked his life by leaving his armored vehicle, running into the flames, and saving the reluctant woman. She fought the agent the entire time he was rescuing her.

At approximately 12:25 p.m., numerous agents heard what they described as "systematic" gunfire in the compound. The gunfire was described as "systematic," as opposed to rounds "cooking off" from the intense heat of the fire. Several agents believed at the time that the Davidians were either killing themselves or each other.

At 12:34 p.m., the fire trucks arrived; however, because of the danger of gunfire, firefighting efforts did not begin until 12:41 p.m.

While the fire was still burning and ammunition was exploding, another group of HRT agents risked their lives by entering the tunnels in the compound to search for survivors, especially children. Although the agents discovered the tunnels, and a buried school bus connected to the tunnels, to be cool and undamaged by the fire, no survivors were located.

Following the fire, the FBI and Texas Rangers searched the remains of the compound. The search uncovered the remains of most of the Davidians who perished. The search also uncovered over 100 firearms, including .50 caliber weapons and fully automatic assault rifles, and approximately 400,000 rounds of ammunition. In addition, the ATF assembled an arson team consisting of experts from around the country. The arson team concluded that the Davidians had started the fire at three separate places inside the compound, and that the FBI's actions did not cause the fire. The arson team also concluded that the Davidians could have escaped the fire if they had wanted.

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