Ruby Ridge FBI Sharpshooter was at Waco

FBI sharpshooter who killed the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver during a 1992 siege in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, manned a sniper post outside the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, where Texas Rangers found spent rifle casings.

FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Lon Horiuchi, who saw involuntary manslaughter charges brought by state officials in the death of Vicki Weaver later dismissed by a federal court, was in one of two sniper posts outside the Davidian compound during the FBI's 1993 Waco siege.

A report released yesterday by the Texas Rangers on the Waco tragedy said a dozen .308-caliber shell casings, two dozen .223 casings, three .45 casings and a .22-250 casing were found at the post manned by Mr. Horiuchi and at another sniper site. The .308 casings are similar to those often used by snipers and are consistent with the round used by Mr. Horiuchi in the death of Mrs. Weaver.

The Rangers' report raises further questions about the FBI's role in the 51-day standoff, now the subject of inquiries by former Missouri Sen. John Danforth and two congressional committees. Investigators want to know whether FBI agents started a fire that killed 86 persons, including 24 children, and if they fired shots into the compound. Coupled with reports of the expended shell casings and a two-page statement by FBI Agent Charles Riley -- who said he heard shots fired from a sniper post occupied by Mr. Horiuchi -- the new information will generate further public and political pressure for full disclosure of the FBI's actions in Waco.

The FBI and the Justice Department have denied that any shots were fired by agents during the siege. FBI officials yesterday declined comment on the new information, citing pending litigation and the Danforth investigation. They also refused comment on the Riley statement.

But bureau officials, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Riley later retracted his statement, saying he heard no gunshots from the sniper post. They also noted that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents -- involved in a gunfight at the site on Feb. 28, 1993 -- had occupied the same sniper posts.

The Riley statement was filed as part of a wrongful death suit by surviving Davidians. It is among more than two dozen volumes of motions, rulings and exhibits listed in the suit, which claims that some of those who died in the April 19, 1993, raid were killed in an exchange of gunfire. The suit is scheduled to go to trial next month in Waco. Commissioner James B. Francis, who heads the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said there is some indication "gunfire took place there by government police officers," although he declined to elaborate. He said it was "a subject matter that needs to be investigated."

Mr. Horiuchi, a 15-year FBI veteran and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., has not been available for comment. He told Justice investigators shortly after the Waco raid that "none of the snipers under his control at Sierra-1 fired any rounds from their weapons."

Attorney General Janet Reno ordered an investigation two weeks ago after the FBI acknowledged a "limited number" of incendiary devices may have been used during the Waco siege. Miss Reno said she was told they were not going to be fired into the wooden compound.

In July, the Texas Rangers first called into question FBI claims that its agents had not used pyrotechnics on the day of the fire. They said items found at the site were "problematic or at least questionable" in corroborating FBI claims. A review of 12 tons of evidence was part of a criminal probe for the 1994 trial of eight Davidians on charges ranging from manslaughter to weapons violations.

In an Oct. 30, 1993, report, the Justice Department said the FBI and the ATF acted responsibly during the siege and that Branch Davidian leader David Koresh was to blame for the carnage. Records show the FBI told Justice within months of the raid it had used incendiary devices, but the department never made the information available to Congress or the public.

In a December 1993 report, the FBI said it had found "a fired U.S. military 40 mm shell casing which originally contained a CS gas round" and two other "expended 40 mm tear gas projectiles."

That information was listed on the last page of a 49-page report the FBI gave to Justice and the Rangers. Justice said last week only the first 48 pages of the report were turned over to Congress, which held hearings on the siege in mid-1995.

Congressional Democrats argued yesterday, however, that Justice gave Congress the full report in 1995, saying the entire 49-page document was located by Democratic staff members in House Government Reform Committee files. Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, ranking Democrat on the committee, said he has forwarded the documents to Mr. Danforth.

During the April 1993 Waco raid, FBI agents were authorized to use deadly force. Richard Rogers, head of the hostage-rescue team, said that while the Davidians did shoot at the agents, the FBI did not fire "a single shot" because they did not "acquire clear and identifiable targets."

But two experts in thermal imaging are expected to testify during the wrongful death trial that an infrared video shows that gunfire was directed at the compound. That testimony and the Riley statement were what U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr., who will oversee the trial, cited as "at least some evidence" to support the claims that Davidians were afraid they would be shot if they tried to escape from the compound.

Judge Smith refused to dismiss Mr. Horiuchi as an individual defendant in the suit, although he dismissed other individual defendants, including numerous FBI and ATF agents.

Mr. Horiuchi testified he did not mean to shoot Mrs. Weaver, 42, as she stood in the doorway of their remote Idaho cabin. He said the shot was intended for Kevin Harris, a family friend who was armed. The fatal shot came from a distance of 200 yards, fired from a specially modified .308-caliber sniper rifle.

A federal judge dismissed the state charges against Mr. Horiuchi in May 1998, saying he was acting in the line of duty. The Justice Department had argued he was protected by an 1891 Supreme Court ruling preventing federal officers from being prosecuted by states for actions within the scope of their job.

Meanwhile, Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani said he would welcome the opportunity to reopen his inquiry into how the Davidians died. He headed the team that performed autopsies on Mr. Koresh and his followers, including the children, and said it may be possible to determine whether any of the 23 Davidians killed by gunfire were shot from outside the compound.