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Was the FBI really at Waco to contain a siege or were trigger-happy agents purposely brought to the Davidian church to finish off the job the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms botched?

Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that FBI agent Charles Riley said all the way back in June 1993 that he heard shots fired from a sniper post occupied by agent Lon Horiuchi, according to court documents filed by Branch Davidians and relatives as part of a wrongful-death suit scheduled to go to trial next month.

If this fact is true, and if the sniper fire occurred, as Davidians charge, on the final day of the siege, this is a very interesting development, indeed.

Why?

Think about it. The final Waco conflagration occurred April 19, 1993. But this was hardly the first time Lon Horiuchi had found himself in a position to shoot innocent civilians.

You see, Horiuchi was the paid assassin the FBI used Aug. 22, 1992 — eight months earlier — to plug a fatal hole in the head of Vickie Weaver, an unarmed mother clutching her 10-month-old baby during a similar siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. It seems Lon Horiuchi is something of a specialist — the FBI’s go-to guy when it’s open season on women and children.

Imagine that. Eight months earlier, Horiuchi had blown Vickie Weaver’s head off while she stood in a doorway in an isolated rural area. She was no threat to anyone, not wanted on any charges and, of course, unarmed — unless the FBI now considers infants dangerous weapons.

Horiuchi was indicted for manslaughter by Idaho authorities for the shooting, but the charges were thrown out. The federal government only made excuses for him. And now we have reason to believe that eight months after the incident at Ruby Ridge, one that ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 million in a civil settlement with Randy Weaver, Horiuchi was assigned to another volatile siege with civilians — including women and children.

Did he show any restraint? Did he learn a lesson from his earlier shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach at Ruby Ridge? Apparently not, if we are to believe one of his colleagues.

Horiuchi was firing away from a sniper’s perch again at Waco.

The FBI spent two years investigating Horiuchi’s actions at Ruby Ridge, ultimately giving him a clean bill of health.

But, in light of the latest Waco revelations, let’s review those actions. On Aug. 21, the government killed Weaver’s son, Sammy. The next day, overcome with grief, Weaver, his 16-year-old daughter, Sara, and a friend, Kevin Harris, ventured out of their cabin to see Sammy and bury him.

As Weaver reached the shed where his son’s body rested, Lon Horiuchi opened fire on him. One round struck Weaver’s underam.

“I’m hit,” Weaver hollered.

Daughter Sara tried desperately to push her father back to the safety of the cabin. Harris ran, his back to the snipers.

“I’m hit, Momma,” Randy had cried to Vicki as he ran toward the door that Vicki had been holding open for them. “I’m hit.”

“Get in here!” Vicki shouted.

Those were her last words. Horiuchi’s bullet smashed into her head and blew off the side of her face. And after she fell, her husband pried the baby from her arms. Weaver and his daughter dragged Vickie’s body through the kitchen, her blood flooding the floor.

Horiuchi told investigators he had been trying to kill Harris when he hit Vickie. But Horiuchi is a professional sharpshooter. Are we to believe he is an incompetent — a lousy shot? Why does the FBI keep sending him out on these assignments if he can’t distinguish between an armed man and an unarmed woman? And even if his story is true, why was he trying to shoot a man in the back?

Nevetheless, despite all the obvious questions, there was Horiuchi again, eight months later — on the firing line, in the sniper’s post — when the FBI’s targets included women and kids in a church compound in Texas. Once again, the FBI’s favorite hitman had an itchy trigger finger. One of his own colleagues reports he heard rounds firing from his perch on the last tragic day of the Waco siege.

This story is getting stranger all the time. Just when you thought you had heard the worst about your government, it surprises you with new lows of murderous contempt for human decency.

But, remember, Horiuchi is only a trigger man. Like he told investigators in a plea reminiscent of the Nazi war criminals: ‘I was only following orders.’ Indeed, he was.

Let’s not allow Horiuchi to be the scapegoat for Waco. It’s time to pursue those who issued the orders that led to the staging of the Waco holocaust — those who framed the ‘rules of engagement.’

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