Files detail evidence of huge cult arsenal

The Dallas Morning News/May 26, 1993
By Lee Hancock

Authorities found remnants of a huge arsenal from the Branch Davidian compound, including grenades, gas masks, more than a million rounds of ammunition and at least 40 submachine guns-including three with silencers, according to a federal document unsealed in Waco this week.

Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms say the weapons and other materiel found in the ashes of the cult's McLennan County compound confirm their fears that Branch Davidian leader David Koresh was amassing a weapons cache capable of carrying out his bizarre, apocalyptic teachings.

"We were right from the beginning,' said ATF spokesman Jack Killorin. "It was our belief going in there that there was a large stockpile of weapons and parts for making weapons and explosive devices. It seems clear that our suspicions were also correct that these were not being amassed for self-defense.

"One of the things that has concerned me was that we found silenced submachine guns, which are typically weapons of assassination or guerilla warfare. It raises the question of what this religious group was planning to do,' he said.

Four ATF agents were killed and 16 were injured Feb. 28 when they and more than 90 other federal agents tried to serve search and arrest warrants on the cult.

ATF officials said that they decided not to try to surround the compound and negotiate a surrender after an eight-month investigation of firearms violations by the cult because they feared that Mr. Koresh would order a mass suicide.

A 51-day standoff that followed the ATF raid ended April 19 when the compound burned. Some of the nine cultists who survived say the fires were touched off when tanks used to inject tear gas into the compound knocked over lanterns inside.

But FBI officials contend that the fires were deliberately set on orders by Mr. Koresh.

According to the lengthy computer printout unsealed Monday in U.S.

District Court in Waco, weapons were found close to the bodies of at least five cultists who died in the fire.

Autopsies on the bodies recovered from the fire indicated that Mr.

Koresh and at least 17 of his followers-including his chief lieutenant-sustained gunshot wounds as the compound burned. At least 72 cultists died in the fire, authorities said.

Among approximately 200 separate weapons cataloged during a three-week search of the compound were:

* At least one Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifle. A Dallas-area gun dealer said during the standoff that he had sold one of the weapons to Mr. Koresh, and authorities suspected that he had several of the bipod-mounted weapons in the compound. Authorities also found another Barrett bipod bearing a different weapon serial number. Another court document filed Tuesday indicated that the search produced a second .50-caliber weapon.

* 19 SGW CAR-AR assault submachine guns, including three fitted with silencers.

* At least nine other silencers.

* Eight hand grenades and at least 31 other grenade parts and fragments.

* More than 20 pieces and fragments of rockets, apparently used to make rocket-propelled grenades. Authorities also cataloged one sight for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

* Three Israeli-made IMI Galil assault rifles.

* Ten Ruger Mini-14 assault rifles-including one with a mounted scope.

* The barrel of an M60 machine gun.

* One 30 mm rocket shell.

* Nine FAL assault rifles, including three mounted on bipods.

* At least 54 AK-47 or AKS assault rifles, including some converted to fully automatic submachine guns.

* 11 .12-gauge shotguns, including one with a sawed-off barrel.

Authorities also discovered lathes, milling equipment and other tooling machinery, the document stated. An affidavit filed last month indicated that authorities suspected the cult had a trained machinist who was using the tools for illegal conversion of assault rifles to automatic weapons and also was attempting to manufacture a crude "grease gun' machine gun.

And authorities also discovered dozens of pistols and dozens of barrels for M-16s, AR-15s and other weapons.

Also taken from the wreckage were an unspecified number of gas masks, one chemical warfare suit, several kevlar tactical vests and other body armor, including at least eight kelvar helmets.

The evidence recovered at the compound also includes the remants of the ATF raid: body armor, a battering ram, an ATF medical kit and a federal-issue MP-5 machine gun apparently dropped by a federal agent fleeing withering gunfire.

Also cataloged are a wide array of items tagged as arson evidence.

That includes Coleman lanterns, crushed or open gas cans and Coleman fuel cans and two items labeled "torches.'

Perhaps the most poignant items recovered are the cultists' personal effects: items such as Bibles, marriage and death certificates, the library card of one deceased woman, children's clothes, baseball cards and a lock of black hair.

Authorities also found some items echoing Mr. Koresh's doomsday teachings, the dry police prose labels one such item: "Document:

Apocalypse-"Death' and "Grave' highlighted.'

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