WACO, Texas (AP) - Federal agents learned how to treat chest wounds and other first aid techniques during training for the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian complex, a federal agent acknowledged Wednesday.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Gerald Petrilli testified that he and other agents expected only to get into fistfights with sect members on Feb. 28, 1993, when they planned to search the building for illegal weapons and arrest sect leader David Koresh.
Instead, the raid led to a gun battle in which four agents and six members of the Branch Davidian cult were killed. That started a 51-day standoff that ended April 19, 1993, when the cult's compound burned down, killing about 80 sect members.
Petrilli was testifying for the government, which is defending itself against a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Waco survivors and relatives seeking $675 million.
Under cross-examination, Petrilli acknowledged that prior to the raid, some agents were taught by personnel at Fort Hood, a nearby Army post, how to administer field intravenous lines and treat shock and gunfire wounds. He said his blood type was stenciled on his neck and leg before the raid.
Robert White, a former ATF agent, had testified last week that writing an agent's blood type on his body was not standard procedure and was recommended by "the military."
The ATF brought tents, medical assistance, portable toilets and water to take care of Davidians who were to be taken into custody, Petrilli said, but never had a chance to use those supplies.
"We never made it to the front door of the structure," he testified. As soon as agents started approaching the building, he said, "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.
Earlier Wednesday, Jacob Mabb, a 16-year-old who left the compound the evening of the raid, recalled helping load ammunition into gun magazines during the raid. He also remembered seeing boxes of magazines and ammunition stored in a concrete vault in the structure.
In his videotaped deposition, he said he heard gunfire during the raid but never saw anyone shooting.
Plaintiffs say the agents fired indiscriminately into the building during the raid, but the agents claim they were ambushed and were defending their lives.
Plaintiffs also claim that on April 19, FBI agents violated an approved tear-gassing plan when tanks punched holes in the building, suggesting the government helped cause at least some of the three fires that engulfed the compound that day.
U.S. attorneys say federal agents acted within their discretion and Branch Davidians started the fires.
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