The Waco FLIR Flashes

Mass murder or thermal reflectance?

On February 28, 1993 the federal government launched a military-style raid on the Mount Carmel Center, which was headed by David Koresh in Waco, Texas. After a prolonged shoot out that killed several people, a 51-day standoff ensued. Then on April 19 the FBI launched a final assault during which Mt Carmel burned to the ground. Over seventy residents inside were killed, many by gunshots. While there is no dispute that government agents fired guns during the initial raid, there is disagreement about their activity during the final assault on April 19.

During the final assault an aircraft circling overhead captured events below on a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) video camera. Some infrared analysts have concluded that flashes seen on the video are the thermal signatures of gunshots being fired at Mt Carmel. Other experts believe the flashes are reflections of infrared energy on detectable objects. The gunshot theory was popularized by the documentaries Waco: The Rules of Engagement and Waco: A New Revelation.

The Overview Analysis

flash-by-flash analyses

Illustration of the Mount Carmel Center. Numbered spots mark the flash locations below.

The Primary Flash Locations

Location 1: a burst of flashes appear. Some infrared analysts opine they are gunfire. Are first appearances deceiving?

Location 2: flashes appear on two dark objects. Was it gunfire? Two Waco documentaries say "Yes!" Are they correct?

Location 3: large flashes appear that some analysts say are explosions. Or are they reflections on a fallen window?

Location 4: as the fire breaks out rapid flashes appear that look like gunfire. Is this mass murder or thermal reflectance?

Location 5: the first flashes appear here as a wall panel with window hits the ground. Is it gunfire or reflective glass?

Location 6: a large flash appears here that some infrared analysts opine is a grenade. See what they overlooked.

Locations 7: here are flashes said to be Davidian gunfire. They allegedly shot at the tanks, so this must be that... right?

Other Waco FLIR Analyses

FLIR Systems & Video was retained by Senator John Danforth's Office of Special Counsel to analyze the Waco FLIR. Click name for short report.

Dr Edward Allard, physicist, retired director of the Defense Department's Night Vision Laboratory. Allard holds patents for breakthrough FLIR technology. He has testified that the Waco FLIR flashes are gunshots.

Dr Don Frankel of Photon Research Associates: "The flashes seen on the tape cannot be weapons muzzle flash. Their duration is far too long and their spatial extent is far too great. They are almost certainly the result of solar energy or heat energy from nearby vehicles reflected toward the FLIR by debris or puddles." Source: Proceedings of the SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, vol 4370, 2001.

Barbara Grant, and electro-optical engineer argues in the Proceedings of the SPIE that the Waco FLIR flashes may be gunshots but require further study.

Carlos Ghigliotti (page 1, 2, 3), owned Infrared Technologies Corp. and was retained by the House Government Reform Committee to investigate the Waco FLIR. He concluded that the Waco FLIR flashes are gunshots.

Maryland Advanced Development Laboratory hired by The Washington Post to test the Waco FLIR for gunshots with the VIPER gunshot detection system that is specifically designed to identify gun-muzzle flashes on FLIR. This expert system found zero gunshots on the Waco FLIR.

James Saffrin, experienced infrared analyst with Infraspection Institute. Hired by CBS 60 Minutes to analyze the Waco FLIR and believes the flashes are gunfire.

Vector Data Systems, retained by Senator John Danforth to analyze the Waco FLIR. They showed that in visible-light photos glass can be seen at several flash locations and they proved that sun-reflecting glass produces a FLIR flash.

Maurice Cox, mathematician and imagery analyst for U.S. military intelligence. Cox concluded that the Waco FLIR flashes are gunshots.

Washington Post report citing several expert opinions


Carol Moore's The Davidian Massacre (on Amazon) is probably the best study available on the tragic Waco incident. While many independent researchers hung their hats on theories eventually felled by falsification, Moore avoided the hypothetical and stuck to collecting known facts, producing one of the few Waco studies that has stood the test of time. Moore takes the view that I share, which is that the government's actions demonstrated such poor planning and extreme excessive force that by default its agents share responsibility for the tragic outcome.


The Overview Analysis


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