Newspaper Says Police Had Plan To Bomb MOVE In 1984
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Police planned as early as a year ago to evict members of the radical group MOVE from their fortified house by using explosives to blast a hole in the roof, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
The plan called for officers to crawl onto the roof, detonate an explosive charge and pump tear gas into the house in west Philadelphia, the newspaper said Tuesday.
The plan was modified and adopted for the May 13 assault in which four children and seven adults in the MOVE house died, the newspaper said, citing police sources.
During that assault, a satchel bomb was dropped from a helicopter to break up a rooftop fortification, but it set off a fire that burned 61 houses and caused $10 million in damage.
In another report, the Daily News said notes taken by a city detective quoted a police sergeant as saying he ″downed″ a member of the radical group in an alley behind the MOVE house.
Robert Hurst, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, denied the sergeant made the remark, but the newspaper said it raised again the possibility that there was a shootout between police and MOVE members during the fire. Officers have denied returning fire.
Police have said a MOVE member emerged from the house with the two known survivors of the assault and fired a rifle before disappearing into the smoke.
Spokesmen for Mayor W. Wilson Goode and the police declined to comment on the reports, citing a special city investigation into the siege and fire.
FOP attorneys are representing all officers involved in the MOVE episode who are called before the investigating commission.
The bomb plan was devised in preparation for a confrontation Aug. 8, 1984, the anniversary of a previous police assault on a MOVE compound, the Daily News said. Police massed in the vicinity of the house, but no violent confrontation developed.
Goode has said since May 13 that he first learned of a plan to use explosives 17 minutes before the bomb was dropped.
Former city Managing Director Leo A. Brooks also told the Daily News he had no knowledge of any 1984 plan.