Janet Reno, AG who oversaw Waco and Elian Gonzalez, dies at 78

November 7, 2016 GMT

Janet Reno, who served as the first woman U.S. attorney general, died early Monday of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Reno, 78, was tapped as the nation’s top lawyer in 1993 and was considered one of President Bill Clinton’s most recognizable and polarizing figures. She took office as the crisis was building at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

The religious sect led by David Koresh was in a standoff with FBI agents and Reno gave the order for agents to storm the property because she believed children were being abuased.

About 80 people died in the raid, and Reno took full responsibility.


“I approved the plan and I’m responsible for it,” she said.

Reno also got criticism for how she handled the Elian Gonzalez case. The boy, 6, was living with relatives in Miami when Reno ordered federal agents to storm the house. The child was sent back to Cuba to live with his father. The Cuban American community was enraged.

Reno’s no-nonsense style and candid manner endeared her to many and she got the parody treatment on “Saturday Night Live” for “Janet Reno’s Dance Party” and eventually made a cameo appearance with Will Ferrell.