Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas/FBI Restraint
The stand-off with the Davidians presented a significant danger to the FBI personnel who were stationed within range of the compound's weaponry. Investigation by the ATF revealed that by February 28, 1993 Koresh and his associates had at least 243 total firearms, including two 50 caliber semi-automatic rifles, numerous assault rifles, shotguns, revolvers and pistols. The Davidians also purchased hundreds of grenades and 39 "full auto sears" devices used to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons. On February 28 shots were fired from over forty different positions within the compound. The Davidians were trained in the use of these weapons. Moreover, there was concern that the Davidians had dug tunnels fanning out from the compound and planned to place explosives in the tunnels under FBI positions.
There is no evidence of any shots being fired at the compound by law enforcement officers after the cease fire on February 28, 1993. We have reviewed the statements of the agents who participated in the tear gas assault on April 19, 1993 and none of them claim to have fired their weapons on April 19. SAC Jamar and ASAC Rogers both state that the FBI did not fire on the compound that day. However, rounds were being fired from the compound at the FBI on April 19th. Also, agents reported hearing gunfire within the compound.
The FBI demonstrated admirable restraint in not firing back on April 19 and thereby avoided being provoked into a gun battle with the Davidians. Outside agencies present on April 19 praised the FBI's professionalism in their execution of the gas assault.
- HRT members threw diversionary "flash-bangs" at some Davidians who came outside the compound after the Davidians had been told not to do so near the end of the stand-off. Although flash-bangs make a loud noise which might be mistaken for a gunshot, they are non-lethal devices only intended to stun and confuse the target.