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Investigator absolves U.S. government in Waco siege

image
Danforth  

July 21, 2000
Web posted at: 2:25 p.m. EDT (1825 GMT)

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) -- An outside investigator assigned to probe the 1993 siege and fire at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, on Friday absolved the government of any wrongdoing in the disaster.

Former Sen. John Danforth said in a report that David Koresh, leader of the group, and several others were entirely responsible.

"The tragedy at Waco rests with certain Branch Davidians and their leader David Koresh who shot and killed four (government) agents, wounded 20 others, shot at FBI agents trying to insert tear gas into the complex, burned down the complex, and shot at least 20 of their own people, including five children," Danforth said.

  RESOURCES
 
  PERSPECTIVE
Two views of Waco from a former FBI investigator and a Branch Davidian survivor

About 80 sect members, including leader Koresh, died in the fire that followed the raid at the end of a 51-day siege. The standoff began on February 28, 1993, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to serve Koresh a warrant. A gunfight erupted, killing four of the agents and six of the cult members.

Danforth issued the report one week after a Texas jury found in a damage suit that federal agents were not to blame for the deaths in the siege and fire.

Attorney General Janet Reno named Danforth, a respected former Republican senator, as an outside investigator in September 1999. She took the action under pressure from members of Congress who claimed there had been a government cover-up.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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