The Konformist

May 2000

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Saturday April 22 2:34 PM ET

Report: Agents Didn't Fire at Waco

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A simulation of the deadly 1993 Branch Davidian siege showed that flashes caught on videotape were most likely sunlight reflecting off debris, not government gunfire as claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit, according to a preliminary report.

Vector Data Systems, the British firm that conducted the March 19 simulation at an Army base in Texas, submitted its report earlier this month to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr., who is presiding over the Branch Davidian lawsuit, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday, citing unidentified informed sources.

Vector found that flashes produced by sunlight reflecting off debris lasted considerably longer than flashes produced by gunfire, the newspaper said.

That finding would support the government's claim that similar flashes seen on a 1993 infrared tape of the siege were the result of sunlight reflecting off the crumbling complex, not gunfire.

But an attorney for Branch Davidian survivors and relatives, Michael Caddell, insists he does not have to prove government gunfire caused the deaths of more than 80 members of the sect.

Caddell says he plans to show the government was negligent in not having fire equipment at the 1993 siege that ended in a deadly blaze at the compound outside Waco, Texas. And he said his own experts will contradict the conclusion that the flashes were reflections.

The fire started several hours into an FBI operation intended to end a 51-day siege. The government has long contended the Davidians themselves set fire to the retreat and caused their own deaths, whether by fire or gunshots.

Vector was hired to conduct the test by Special Counsel John Danforth who was appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno to oversee an independent investigation into the standoff and fire.

Danforth's appointment followed revelations that the FBI, contradicting a position it had taken for six years, used potentially incendiary devices on the last day of the standoff.

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