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FBI Admits Using Tear Gas at Waco

August 26, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The FBI, reversing a 6-year-old course, admitted Wednesday night its agents may have fired some potentially inflammatory tear gas canisters on the final day of the 1993 standoff with the Branch Davidian cult near Waco, Texas.

``We continue to believe that law enforcement did not start the fire,″ said FBI spokesman John Collingwood. ``But we regret previous answers to Congress and to the public (about possible use of inflammatory devices) ultimately may prove to be inaccurate.″

Although some questions remain unanswered, Collingwood said, ``all available indications are that those rounds were not directed at the main, wooden compound″ in which cult leader David Koresh and many of his followers died during a fire that broke out during the FBI’s final assault about noon April 19, 1993.

``The rounds did not land near the wooden compound, and they were discharged several hours before the fire started,″ Collingwood said.

Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh ordered a full inquiry into the circumstances under which military-type tear gas canisters were fired. Freeh assigned 40 FBI agents to the internal review and ordered everyone at the Waco scene re-interviewed. Collingwood said the inquiry could be completed in weeks.

Answers prepared by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to questions submitted recently by lawyers for Waco families and survivors suing the government ``suggests pyrotechnic devices may have been used in the early morning of April 19, 1993,″ Collingwood said.

``The FBI may have used a very limited number of military-type CS gas canisters on the morning of April 19 in an attempt to penetrate the roof of an underground bunker 30 to 40 yards away from the main Branch Davidian compound,″ he said.

Officials said, 4th graf a0718

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