ATF Agent Sues Waco Newspaper: Claims It Warned Cultists about Raid That Led to His Wounding

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, April 3, 1993 | Go to article overview

ATF Agent Sues Waco Newspaper: Claims It Warned Cultists about Raid That Led to His Wounding


Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher


Claims it warned cultists about raid that led to his wounding

A FEDERAL AGENT wounded in the Feb. 28 shoot-out with the Branch Davidian sect sued the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald, asserting that someone on the paper warned the armed cultists about the raid.

In his lawsuit, John T. Risenhoover, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, does not offer any details about the alleged tip.

His attorney, James R. Dunnam, suggested that proof of the allegation would be offered when the suit went to trial.

In the suit, Risenhoover says that on the morning of the raid, an unidentified person "called [cult leader] David Koresh at the compound and informed him that it had an urgent message for him and other members of the compound, which message informed them of an impending raid by ATF and other officials."

Unnamed Tribune-Herald employees conspired to "promote and create a confrontation and physical encounter" between the ATF and the armed Branch Davidians, the lawsuit charges.

Tribune-Herald editor Bob Lott "categorically denied" that anyone on the paper alerted the cult members.

Because the cult appeared prepared for the surprise raid, Texas Rangers are investigating the possibility of a tip.

Investigators say a series of phone calls was made to the cult ranch from the Tribune-Herald on the morning of the raid, according to a report citing unnamed "law enforcement sources" written by Washington Post reporters Pierre Thomas and Edward Walsh.

The Post said those sources have information "suggesting that reporters were among the last to talk to Koresh before ATF agents moved into position outside the compound. …

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