Agent: Davidians Sought Fiery End To Standoff
SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ Followers of doomsday prophet David Koresh set fire to their compound and at least one even ran into the flames, an FBI agent said.
Agent John Morrison testified on Monday that he watched a member of the cult spread something around the front room of the Waco compound. Moments later, ″I see a fire come up from right where his hands were,″ he said.
Continuing his testimony today, Morrison said that at one point, a man on the roof turned away an approaching armored vehicle.
″He waved them off,″ Morrison said. ″Like, ’Get away.‴
The fire last April killed Koresh and as many as 85 followers. It capped a 51-day siege that began Feb. 28 with a botched weapons raid that left four agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms dead. Six Davidians are also believed to have died.
Eleven surviving Davidians are on trial on murder and conspiracy charges. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Their lawyers claim the Davidians were defending themselves against an overwhelming government assault that continued until the blaze. Prosecutors say the cult stockpiled illegal weapons and planned an apocalyptic confrontation.
Once the blaze began, Morrison said, he saw one woman jump from a second story window, then dash back inside the burning building. An FBI agent later carried her out.
Another woman with ″a small smoke trail coming from her back″ lay down and let herself burn until an agent squirted her with a fire extinguisher, Morrison said.
Morrison’s testimony contradicted the claim by survivors that government agents started the fire by tipping over a lantern during the FBI’s assault on the fortress. Last year, an independent fire team concluded the Davidians started the fire.
Other FBI agents described how authorities had used loudspeakers to warn the Davidians to leave, then driven in armored vehicles that ripped ″tank- sized″ holes in the compound walls and fired in tear gas.
Defense lawyers displayed photographs showing extensive damage to the buildings. The southern end of the compound was crushed by the armored vehicles, and a large section of the gymnasium was demolished.
″It was not an assault,″ agent Mike Toulouse testified.