Agent Allegedly Refused Koresh's Offer
AUSTIN - A federal agent rejected Branch Davidian cult leader David
Koresh's offer to show the government his weapons cache seven months
prior to the agency's commando-style raid, a Houston attorney said
Dick DeGuerin, who represented the deceased cult leader, said a former
Waco weapons dealer who often sold to Koresh phoned the cult leader
from another room while an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco
and Firearms searched the dealer's sales records in July, 1992.
DeGuerin said that when Harry McMahon told Koresh about the ATF inves-
tigation, Koresh responded by inviting the federal agent to inspect
the weapons at the Mount Carmel compound. But the ATF agent got upset
and rejected Koresh's offer, DeGuerin said.
Speaking at a Texas Freedon of Information Foundation conference,
DeGuerin said such a conversation at least indicated the Feb. 28 ATF
raid on the compound might have been avoided. The raid erupted into
a gunbattle with four agents killed and 16 wounded.
Six Branch Davidians died in the raid and first day of the shoot-out,
and about 85 other cult members died, including Koresh, when the com-
pound exploded into flames to end the 51-day seige.
DeGuerin said McMahon phoned Koresh, saying: "There's a guy here from
the ATF looking at my books and he's asking a lot of questions about
you and your guns."
According to DeGuerin, Koresh responded: "Well, tell them they can come
on out and they can see the guns."
When told about the offer, DeGuerin said: "The ATF agent goes nuts and
gets angry and says `we don't want to do it that way.' "
Neither McMahon or his attorney, Robert Montserrat, could be reached
to verify DeGuerin's statements.
Jack Killorin, an ATF spokesman in Washington, D.C, said it would not
be surprising for federal agents to reject an offer by Koresh to in-
spect the cult's weapons. "The preferred method by the law is going
with the standard of getting a warrant before entering a home," Killo-
rin said. "We execute such warrants."
Despite McMahon's warning, Killorin said Koresh likely knew he and the
cult were under investigated.
"Mr. Koresh was no fool," Killorin said.
At the conference, member of the press told how the ATF and FBI attemp-
ted to control the flow of information about the raid and siege.
Several journalists suggested that the siege might not have ended so
tragically if they had been able to talk to the cult members inside the
The FOI conference also included a "Legislative and Public Access"
seminar chaired by Tony Pederson, managing editor of the Houston Chro-
nicle. The panel discuessed the public's right to know versus its
right to privacy.
Pederson and other panel members expressed concern that some public
agencies--particularly school districts and other local agencies--were
attempting to circumvent the Texas Open Records Act by overcharging
the public and news media for open records.
Friday evening, Pederson also became the first active journalist to
receive the foundation's prestigious James Madison Award for his role
in ensuring that state lawmakers understand the importance of main-
taining public access to government documents and meetings.
Pederson, 42, was given the annual award for serving for more than a
year as chairman of Texas Media, an organization that fought to keep
the Texas Open Records Act and Texas Open Meetings Law from being
watered down during the 1993 legislative session.
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