Agent Testifies ‘It’s Possible’ He Wounded Fellow Agent During Raid
SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ A federal agent admitted Tuesday ″it’s possible″ he accidentally shot a fellow officer during the botched raid on the Branch Davidian compound.
Keith Constantino, an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said a 9-millimeter bullet that wounded another agent was the same type he had in his gun. The agent survived.
Four agents were killed and 16 wounded in the Feb. 28 firefight, which led to a 51-day standoff between doomsday prophet David Koresh’s followers and law officers. Six Branch Davidians are believed to have died in the gun battle.
″I do not recall him moving in my line of fire,″ Constantino said under questioning from prosecutors. Asked whether the bullet came from his gun, he responded: ″It’s possible.″
Eleven Davidians are charged with murder and murder conspiracy. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Koresh and about 80 followers died April 19 when the compound went up in flames.
Constantino was assigned to enter an upstairs weapons room of the compound with agents Bill Buford and Glen Jordan during the raid. Inside, the three came face-to-face with one gunman, who fled the room without shooting. Bullets then began bursting through the walls and the agents fired back, Constantino said.
Buford and Jordan were wounded. Earlier, Buford testified he had heard an agent may have been shot by ″friendly fire.″
″I have heard that there is a possibility that agent Constantino shot special agent Jordan,″ Buford said. ″Just hearsay, sitting around talking.″
Buford testified the agents fired at least 75 rounds into the room.
″It was intense. I remember thinking to myself I can’t believe I’m not getting hit because the rounds were coming in at such a volume,″ he said.
In a victory for the defense, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith permitted agent Bill Buford to be questioned about the raid’s planning.
Buford testified he first favored surrounding the compound and ordering a surrender, but later changed his mind and agreed it should be a ″dynamic entry,″ which relied the element of surprise.
″I felt like in order to protect the women and children on the inside of the compound, I felt like a dynamic entry was the safest way to do it to save lives,″ said Buford.
Also Tuesday, ATF agent Gary Orchowski identified defendant Livingston Fagan as the gunman who shot him during the raid. Orchowski was the second ATF agent to testify that Fagan was the man who fired at federal officers with an AR-15 rifle.
″I thought it was one of our agents at first. Then he pointed his rifle at me and I knew it wasn’t one of our agents,″ Orchowski said. ″Any time I moved, shots were fired at me. ... I constantly had fire coming at me.″
Fagan is the only defendant so far to be identified in court by agents as having fired shots.