More Testimony in Waco Case

Associated Press Writer, July 5, 2000
By Sherri Chunn

WACO, Texas (AP) - Branch Davidian leader David Koresh wanted semiautomatic weapons converted into machine guns and grew more militant in the months before government agents attempted to raid the cult's compound, a former member testified Wednesday.

In a deposition read by government attorneys, Donald Bunds said Koresh told him to bring machinery to the complex outside Waco to modify weapons.

Bunds, who lived at the compound for several months, said he "did the job," using a milling machine and a lathe to make silencers and modify weapons parts. He testified he saw all the parts needed to make a fully automatic assault rifle, or machine gun, but did not know if a complete gun ever was constructed.

Koresh considered the government an enemy and often spoke about a violent end of the world, he said. "He thought this was an inevitable thing," Bunds said.

Bunds left the compound on Feb. 28, 1993, hours before the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to raid the complex to search for illegal weapons and arrest Koresh.

The raid led to a gun battle in which four agents and six Branch Davidians died. It started a 51-day standoff that ended April 19, 1993, when the cult's compound burned down, killing about 80 Davidians.

Bunds' testimony was offered by the government in defense of a $675 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by Branch Davidian survivors and relatives.

Though the plaintiffs say the agents fired indiscriminately into the building during the raid, the agents claim they were ambushed and were defending their lives.

The plaintiffs also claim the government helped cause at least some of the three fires that engulfed the compound at the end of the siege; the government says the Branch Davidians started the fires.

Bunds was jailed the day of the raid as he was returning to the compound after the shootout.

He acknowledged under cross-examination that he cooperated with the ATF in exchange for his release from jail and that he continued to cooperate with the government until he was allowed to return to his home in California.

Earlier Wednesday, an ATF agent said ATF medics received first aid training from their military counterparts two days before the raid. The agent, Gerald Petrilli, said he expected fistfights with cult members when agents raided the compound, not a shootout.

"We never made it to the front door of the structure," he testified, saying once agents started approaching the building, "the entire front of the compound erupted in gunfire."

"There was no way for us to simply get up and walk out without being slaughtered ... We were stuck there," Petrilli said.

Under cross-examination, Petrilli said some agents were taught by personnel at Fort Hood, a nearby Army post, how to administer intravenous lines and treat shock and gunfire wounds a few days before the raid. He also said his blood type was written on his neck and leg before the raid.

Former ATF agent Robert White testified last week that writing an agent's blood type on their body was recommended by the military and not standard procedure.

The government also offered the videotaped deposition of Jacob Mabb, a 16-year-old who left the compound the evening of the raid. He recalled helping load ammunition into gun magazines during the raid and said he saw boxes of magazines and ammunition stored in a concrete vault in the structure.

Mabb, who was 9 when he left the complex, said he heard gunfire during the raid but never saw anyone shooting.

A five-member jury will act as an advisory panel to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith, who will deliver the verdict.

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