DALLAS (AP) - Several spent illumination flares were found in the tons of evidence recovered from the charred rubble of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, The Dallas Morning News reported today.
The newspaper said Texas Rangers discovered a star parachute flare while sifting through a storage facility Friday for missing pyrotechnic tear gas grenades.
Evidence logs showed more such incendiary flares were recovered in the weeks following the FBI siege and assault on April 19, 1993, said James B. Francis Jr., head of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"These flares are potentially a very important issue, inasmuch as the government had enormous spotlights trained on the compound throughout the standoff.''
"They didn't need these flares to light the compound. One or more was fired,'' Francis told the newspaper. "For what purpose or reason would these rounds be used?''
John Collingwood, an FBI spokesman, told the newspaper he could not flatly rule out the agency's use of illumination rounds during the deadly siege but said they played no part in the final assault.
"Several times during the standoff, they had people sneaking in or out of the compound at night. Whether they ever used them then, I don't know,'' said Collingwood. "But I can say categorically, we did not use illumination rounds on the 19th.''
David Koresh and 78 followers died in the fire and assault at the compound following the 51-day siege. The government has maintained that the fires which destroyed the compound were deliberately set by the Branch Davidians.
Some GOP lawmakers want to know whether the FBI lied for several months about using incendiary tear gas canisters during the final raid. The possibility of launching an independent inquiry has been discussed.
Use of the pyrotechnic rounds, Attorney General Janet Reno has said, violated her strict instructions that nothing capable of sparking a fire be used during the FBI tear-gas assault.
Some 24,000 pounds of evidence has been recovered from the burned compound, plus more than 300,000 rounds of ammunition and other ordnance stockpiled by the sect.
"There is a big semiwarehouse of spent munitions that has not been investigated,'' one unnamed Texas official told the newspaper. "Nobody knew what they were looking for before now. Nobody was hunting for incendiary devices.
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