The autopsy reports for the nine men killed in the Twin Peaks Massacre in Waco on May 17 are a thicket of words that don’t seem to answer many questions. The reports may be as important for what they don’t disprove as for what they do or don’t prove. They do not for example, disprove the notion that all, or at least most of the dead men were killed by police using M-16s and FN P90 machine guns.
Thirteen of sixteen entrance wounds were .25 inches in diameter or smaller.
FN P90s fire a round with a diameter of .224409 inches. M-16s fire slightly smaller rounds with diameters of 0.218898 inches. All but one of the victims had wounds fired from a downward trajectory. Six of the nine dead had head or neck wounds. None of the wounds contained gunshot residue which indicates that the shots were fired from at least three feet away and probably five feet or farther away. The absence of residue casts doubt on claims by prosecutors of “Bandidos executing Cossacks, and Cossacks executing Bandidos.” Two of the dead had large wounds consistent with a 12 gauge shotgun slug. Ten of 16 wounds were in the back, indicating that the victims were running away when they died. Seven of the wounds were fired from right to left. Six were fired from left to right.
Nine millimeter bullets have a diameter of 0.35433 inches; forty caliber handguns fire a bullet that is four tenths of an inch in diameter and 357 magnums fire rounds that are about .357 inches in diameter.
Most of the recovered bullets were either highly deformed or fragmented which indicates they were fired by high velocity weapons and suggests those bullets were shaped like a swallow’s tail. Bullets fired from M-16s have a muzzle velocity of 3,110 feet per second. Bullets fired from FN P90s leave that weapon’s comparatively short barrel at 2,350 feet per second. Bullets generally leave the barrels of nine millimeter handguns at between 950 and 1,300 feet per second; 40 mm handguns generally have a muzzle velocity of between 1,000 and 1,200 feet per second; bullets leave a .357 magnum at about 1,500 feet per second or less; 38 Specials generally have a muzzle velocity of 1,000 feet per second or less.
Most police ammunition in the United States is designed to penetrate a human body to a depth of 12 inches and for that reason that ammunition is usually copper jacketed. Most of the bullets that killed at the Twin Peaks were copper jacketed. Bullets fired from high velocity M-16s, have a tendency to tumble after impact. M-16 rounds tumble because the tail of the projectile is heavier than the nose. The kinetic energy contained in the round has to go somewhere so the bullet tumbles, deforms and usually stops before reaching a depth of 12 inches. Most of the wounds described in the autopsies are consistent with wounds inflicted by M-16s. Both M-16s and FN P90s fire swallow tail shaped bullets.
None of the autopsies include ballistics information. Notations by eight pathologists involved in the autopsies describe bullets and bullet fragments in very general and inconsistent terms. One hundred fifty-one firearms were seized at the crime scene. Bikers usually carry small caliber pistols that range from small revolvers and derringers up to .380 automatics. Ballistic tests on the weapons seized at the Twin Peaks are being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. An informed source with knowledge of ATF procedures speculated that the tests would be completed in November.