CS Gas Used Against Davidians

The tear gas used by the FBI in the final assault against the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, was CS gas. All tear gases are considered nerve agents, which are banned for use in combat by international law, but are frequently used by governments to control large crowds. CS gas, which is very strong, is intended for use only in open-air environments, as it can be inflammable and harmful or lethal in closed environments like the Branch Davidians' home.

Death certificates for Branch Davidians who died in the April 19, 1993, fire indicate lethal levels of cyanide in the Davidian's blood, but none in their digestive systems, suggesting inhalation. The CS powder used to make CS gas is very high in cyanide content, according to the manufacturer.

On the day of the fire, from about 6 a.m. until noon, the FBI fired more than four hundred 40mm artillery shells containing CS powder through the walls and all windows of the Mr. Carmel Center. During this time, it also pumped CS powder from military tanks into the building.

The technical data also states CS powder will ignite at 327 degrees Fahrenheit and once ignited will burn at temperatures as high as 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing it to function as a high-temperature fire accelerant.

Fire trucks were deliberately kept away until the building -- for at least 26 minutes -- after the fire broke out.