How the bomb decision was made
Although the bombing of a radical strongpoint by Philadelphia police caught the citizenry by surprise, contingency plans for it had been made weeks, even months, before. Here is a reconstruction of the events and decisions that led to that action.
(Contributing to this article were staff writers George Anastasia, Russell Cooke, Thomas J. Gibbons Jr., Marc Kaufman, Vernon Loeb and Tim Weiner.)
A blue-and-white helicopter came swooping over the barricaded rowhouse on embattled Osage Avenue, again and again.
On the fifth pass, at 5:27 p.m. Monday, a figure appeared in the helicopter's open doorway and dropped a satchel onto the bunkered roof of the house. Forty-two seconds later, a tremendous whoommph! split the air, and debris rained 30 feet into the sky.
Onlookers stared, unbelieving.
The city was dropping a bomb on one of its own homes.
In the ensuing inferno, 53 homes and at least 11 people were incinerated, and another firestorm began, one now in its fourth day. That storm is one of anguished accusations and incredulous anger set against the judgment of the city's top officials - and many citizens who support them - that their actions were exactly correct, given what they believed about MOVE's plans for violence. It may have yet to crest.
As the week of agony wore on, the citizenry would see city officials contradict one another and themselves repeatedly in trying to explain the disaster.
But there is much that citizens could not see. The Inquirer has reconstructed the events and decisions that led to the bombing of the house occupied by the back-to-nature radicals who called themselves MOVE and the actions of officials in the days after. That reconstruction reveals that:
* For at least 18 months before the conflagration, the chief of the Philadelphia Police Department's Bomb Disposal Unit was assigned to study photographic blowups of the rooftop of the MOVE house supplied by aerial reconnaissance.
* For weeks, and possibly months, the Police Department quietly and secretly tested explosive substances, including the one it was eventually to use, on lumber structures, in preparation for the siege on MOVE.
* While police were apparently working on contingency assault plans for a year and a half, Mayor Goode learned only 17 minutes before the explosion itself that those plans included a bomb. The city Fire Department learned only two hours earlier of the planned explosion that would be followed by the worst residential fire in Philadelphia history; it wasn't told, and didn't ask, what substance would be used in the bomb.
* Yet one day later, when The Inquirer questioned officials at Du Pont Co., the manufacturer of the substance, and also queried the local distributor, it learned that the Fire Department was belatedly asking those firms to give it details about the nature of the explosive the police had used.
* Despite intermittent surveillance of the MOVE building for months, police were astonished to learn how heavily fortified the structure was. They apparently were not aware that other city agencies had unwittingly helped it get that way. Tree trunks that MOVE used to build its rooftop and basement bunkers and to fortify its walls came from Cobbs Creek Park, where the city had cut the trees down and left them. And city sanitation workers dutifully carted off the dirt MOVE members took outside in bushel fruit baskets as they excavated a shelter in their basement.
* After extensive study, the substance the Police Department settled on as ideal for a bomb to be dropped on a house was Tovex TR-2. That was news to Du Pont, the manufacturer of the explosive, which says it has never tested Tovex for use above ground, inasmuch as the material was designed to be used underground to blow up dirt and rocks.
* Despite contingency plans worked out over many months, the decision to actually bomb the MOVE house didn't begin firming up until after 2 p.m. Monday, just 3 1/2 hours before the bombing itself.
It was close to 2 p.m. Monday when a frustrated Police Commissioner Gregore J. Sambor and Managing Director Leo A. Brooks retreated from the battlefield at Osage Avenue to talk strategy. They went five blocks to their temporary command headquarters, two offices inside a building at 63d and Walnut Streets that belonged to Geriatric & Medical Centers Inc.
The parking lot of the building, the former Walnut Park Plaza Hotel, a 10- story structure built in 1929, served as a staging area for the MOVE operation. There, the Police Department had amassed its mechanized equipment - police vans, trucks to transport police horses, fire equipment and other motorized vehicles. Across Cobbs Creek Parkway, on grassy parkland, the state police helicopter took off and landed.
Sambor and Brooks were the generals in charge of the little war that had come to West Philadelphia, and they were stymied by the unexpected firepower and ironclad defenses of the enemy - several so-called back-to-nature radicals holed up in a small rowhouse.
The essence of the police plan was to get close to the house, force an entry and fill it with tear gas to flush out the occupants.
From 5:50 a.m. until 11 a.m., the Fire Department had blasted the house with two water cannons, shooting 1,000 gallons a minute to disable two fortified bunkers on the roof and to knock down wooden shielding that had been placed on the home's walls.
Sections of the thin plywood that sheathed the bunkers had given way, but the bunkers themselves had not budged.
From 5:58 a.m. until 8 a.m., police had fired upward of 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the house, in response to gunfire from within, and had lobbed untold rounds of smoke grenades at the house - to no apparent effect.
Members of the 40-member police stakeout unit also tried to approach the MOVE house at 6221 Osage from both sides. One group of police entered the unit two doors to the east - 6217 Osage - operating on the theory that MOVE had access to the adjacent house at 6219 Osage, where no family had been living.
Their assumption proved correct. When police knocked a hole in the basement wall at 6219, they were met with a fusillade of gunfire that caused them to retreat.
Another group of police entered the basement of the unit west of MOVE - 6223 Osage - and tried to blast a small hole in the wall through which they hoped to insert tear gas. That, too, failed.
Next, that team moved up to the second floor of the same building, where the officers finally succeeded in blasting a small hole in the wall and pumping tear gas into the MOVE house, according to Lt. Frank Powell, commander of the police Bomb Disposal Unit. But there was no response.
Sambor and Brooks later would say they had had no clue to how fortified the MOVE house was, despite 18 months of periodic police surveillance, and that they had been confident that the combination of water and tear gas would do the job.
But it didn't.
Next, they called for a big crane with a wrecking ball, to smash open the bunkers and punch a hole in the roof that would enable police to drop tear gas into the house. For 3 1/2 hours, they could not figure out how to jockey the crane onto Osage Avenue, or to anchor it once it got there.
"We couldn't get it onto the street," Mayor Goode recalled later. "Even if we had, that operator would have been in a direct line of fire. " Goode said he was told that no armor could have protected a crane operator from MOVE's powerful weapons.
So, by 2 p.m., eight hours into the siege, it was clear to Sambor, a retired major in the Army Reserve, and Brooks, a former two-star Army general, that their tactics were failing. They would need something more powerful than bullets, smoke grenades and deluge guns to flush out MOVE.
They huddled in their headquarters at the 10-story building on Walnut Street and compared notes. It was at that point, both Brooks and Sambor recall, that Sambor suggested the bomb.
That was the first time Brooks had heard anything about a bomb. He was immediately interested, even though both men knew the house contained explosives. But while the idea was new to Brooks, it was not new to Sambor.
He would later say that his Bomb Disposal Unit had been assembling and testing experimental explosive devices for weeks, trying them out on walls and test structures they had built at the Police Academy, in anticipation of the police siege on MOVE.
The material he finally authorized his bomb-squad commander to use, Sambor says, was Du Pont Tovex, an explosive gel used mainly in mining and quarry applications.
It was a novel choice. The substance had never before been used in action by Philadelphia police. Sambor says he has "no idea" whether any other police department has ever used it.
Richard B. Hamilton, a Du Pont spokesman, says the product is not designed for blowing up structures above ground, but for blowing holes in soil and rock.
"Those things are designed for very special uses, underground or in rock," Hamilton said.
Robert S. Swingle, marketing manager for Du Pont's explosive-products division, says the company has never even tested "the effects (of Tovex) in an open-air blast. It's designed to go in holes drilled into the ground. "
"I have never seen or heard of a stick of Tovex being detonated on the surface, and I don't know what effect it would have," says Ronald J. Lutz, president of Explo-Tech, a Norristown business from which the Police Department obtained its supply of Tovex.
A Tovex detonation throws off a heat wave that can range from 3,000 to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a Du Pont explosives manual.
Fire Commissioner William C. Richmond would later say that he was not told about the bomb until midafternoon. He was not told, and did not ask, what explosive it contained.
"It would be falling on deaf ears," he said. "I wouldn't know what he was talking about anyway. . . . It's his (Sambor's) operation. We were there to support his operation. "
But one day later, after the inferno had destroyed three rows of houses between 62d Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway, it appeared that Richmond had become curious about Tovex. When contacted by a reporter, spokesmen for both Du Pont and Explo-Tech, the distributor of Tovex for eastern Pennsylvania, said they had also fielded questions from a Philadelphia Fire Department deputy marshal about the nature and qualities of Tovex.
On Monday afternoon, 30 hours before Sambor would introduce the word Tovex to most Philadelphians at a televised news conference, Sambor and Brooks still had not completely decided to build and use a bomb. Before going ahead, they decided to return to Osage Avenue for one more look at the impregnable bunkers. During a lull in the action, they crept into a house across the street from the MOVE compound and, through binoculars, studied the fortress with the splintered, ramshackle facade.
Even though the bunkers had not yielded to water cannon and grenades all morning, Brooks and Sambor were stunned to see, close up, just how solid the front bunker was, Brooks said. The bunker was reinforced with steel plates, 12-by-12 timbers and massive tree trunks. "We could see the fortifications," Brooks said. "We could see the wood stacked in there.
"It was not apparent before because it had been surrounded by big sheets of plywood," Brooks said. He said the strength of the fortifications became apparent only later, after sections of the sheets had been blown off.
Brooks did not know it, but, in a bizarre bit of irony, the city itself had supplied the tree trunks that had stymied the police. The week before the siege, residents of Osage Avenue told a reporter that MOVE members had found the trees lying in nearby Cobbs Creek Park months earlier. A city crew had
cut them down and left them lying on the ground. Night after night, former residents say, MOVE members could be seen struggling down the street, carrying the huge logs into their house. They used them, police now say, to build the bunkers and to fortify interior walls.
Former MOVE neighbors say that was not the first time the city had obliged MOVE. For weeks, they say, MOVE members carted bushel baskets of dirt out of the house - presumably from what police have since identified as a 21-foot- deep bunker excavated in the basement. City sanitation workers dutifully hauled away the MOVE dirt in city trucks each trash-pickup day.
But Brooks and Sambor knew none of that Monday afternoon as they scrutinized the MOVE fortress. With the sight of the heavy bunkers in their binoculars, the bomb began to look even more attractive to the two officials; perhaps it could blow the desired hole in the roof and blow open the bunker.
The possibility of fire was discussed, briefly.
"Oh, yes, that's a possibility," Brooks said later. "He (Sambor) may have said it, or I may have understood it, or somebody else in the conversation may have said it. Sure, fire is always a possibility when you have an explosion, because any explosion itself is a fire. But it's a momentary - it's a flash - it's not a fire."
It was 3 p.m.
At City Hall, Goode was convening a news conference. "We intend to evict them from the house," he said. "We will do it by any means necessary. . . . I hope to God those children will not be injured, will not be hurt. We will do everything we can to prevent that. "
Goode said the next step was up to Sambor. Asked whether a deadline for action existed, he said, "None that I will discuss with you. "
Back on 62d Street, the police command post at the battle scene, an exhausted Lt. Powell, a 17-year veteran of the police force, was summoned to meet with Sambor. The bomb-squad commander had spent the entire day either in the line of fire or trying to punch holes in the wall of the MOVE house.
"You've got to understand that I had been getting shot at for about nine hours. I was very tired and very exhausted," Powell said later.
Sambor asked Powell if he could go to the roof of the MOVE house, blast a hole in the roof and insert the tear gas. Powell told the commissioner that he could not chance that, because someone monitoring a TV camera attached to a boom on a Channel 10 truck "had seen movement in the bunker" and "we were constantly taking fire from the bunker. "
Sambor contradicts that account. He says he had decided no one was in the bunker, because he had men stationed next door and they had detected no movement inside the structure.
"To the best of our information, everybody had gone to the basement," he said, except for two MOVE members "that were chased off (the roof) by the water. "
Apparently convinced that it was too dangerous to send Powell onto the roof, Sambor asked Powell to meet with him again at command headquarters at 4 p.m. Meantime, Powell sent for a supply of Tovex from a police ordnance station.
At the 4 p.m. meeting, Powell says, he, Sambor and Brooks agreed that
Powell would assemble a bomb and go aloft in a helicopter to drop it on the MOVE rooftop, at the rear of the front bunker.
The goal, says Powell, was to "push the bunker off the roof, open the back of the bunker so we could see if in fact anyone was in it and, at the same time, put a small hole in the roof so I could insert the chemical agents.
"The whole essence of our plan from the beginning to the end was that we would use chemical agents to force those people out of that house," Powell said. "We had no intention of ever using force unless we were met with force. "
Powell was assigned to assemble the bomb. At the police staging area at Pine Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway, Powell gathered other members of the bomb squad. The two sausage-like tubes contained Tovex TR-2, a substance that looks like gray gelatin and is one of the most powerful members of Du Pont's Tovex family of explosives. The plastic tubes were each about 2 inches in diameter and 16 inches long. Together, they contained the blasting power of about two sticks of dynamite, Powell said.
"We took the explosive we needed and put it together on the street,"
Powell says. Powell assigned one of the members of the squad to make the device.
"It probably took him 25 or 30 minutes. It's really not that complicated," Powell said. The bomb consisted of the Tovex TR-2, one nonelectric blasting cap, a fuse and a fuse igniter, all in a canvas bag that had previously held tear-gas canisters.
To be sure that his fuse, calculated to burn for 45 seconds, was the proper length, Powell performed a simple test. He cut another sample of equal length, lit it and timed it.
"We don't take any chances," he said.
Asked later whether he supervised the construction of the bomb, Sambor said, "I did not help in its preparation. I get uneasy about that stuff. "
The bomb was ready.
A second bomb, a backup in case the first malfunctioned, was also constructed.
One block away, at the corner of Pine and 62d Streets, an angry Louise James, who is MOVE's landlady and the sister of MOVE co-founder John Africa and the mother of MOVE member Frank Africa, held forth before several newspaper and television reporters. She complained that Mayor Goode had not arrived on the scene and had not responded to several messengers MOVE had sent to City Hall.
Goode was about to receive another message. At 5:10 p.m., the mayor recalls, he received a phone call from Brooks, who, for the first time, told him about the bomb and the proposal to drop it on the MOVE house. Brooks told Goode that it was Sambor's idea. Later, Goode would recall, Brooks "never used the word bomb, nor has anyone (among Goode's inner circle) since that time used that term. . . . They called it some kind of explosive device that they would mix some material that would be used to simply extricate the bunker from the house itself. "
Goode later said he told Brooks, "You have to proceed as you see fit. "
He also later said, "There's no question that had there been knowledge or expectation that a fire would result," the use of the bomb would not have been authorized.
Sambor would later say it was his understanding that the explosive he had chosen would knock out the bunker and blow a hole in the roof, not start a fire. "It was not incendiary by nature," the police commissioner said.
Lt. Powell , the bomb-squad commander, still maintains that the bomb did not start the fire. He believes that MOVE members started the fire.
Ten minutes after Wilson Goode hung up the phone, Powell climbed into a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter in Cobbs Creek Park along with a pilot and co-pilot and strapped himself in with harnesses. Philadelphia police had borrowed the blue-and-white aircraft from the Pennsylvania State Police on Sunday to use for "reconnaissance," according to state police spokesman Thomas Lyon. The state was never informed that the aircraft would be used to transport or drop explosives, Lyon said.
The chopper lifted off and approached embattled Osage Avenue from the north. It made four passes and then returned a fifth time to hover 60 feet over the MOVE compound. Powell leaned from the cabin and peered at the cluttered roof of the Osage Avenue house.
He knew it well; he had been studying photographs of it for a year and a half.
"I probably knew that roof better than my own neighborhood," he said in an interview Wednesday night.
In an Inquirer photograph taken four hours before the bomb was dropped, the MOVE rooftop is strewn with flammable debris, including wood, plastic, cloth and a storage can with the word Gasoline on it. The can appears identical to the 5-gallon gasoline can that Pep Boys sells for $9.99.
Powell said he had seen cans on the roof in photographs taken a few days earlier, but said, "I don't recall seeing any cans on the roof before we dropped it. "
Powell further asserted that hours of high-pressure hosing of the roof had washed away any possible flammable substance before the bombing. Powell asserted that "if there had been any cans up there, they would have been opened by (gun) fire. So, as far as I'm concerned, there was no chance of any flammables being on that roof in cans. "
Sambor even suggested that MOVE members may have caused the fire from inside their home in order to prevent police from gaining access to the roof.
"I think it was a result of them having spread . . . material throughout the building and on the rooftops," the police commissioner said.
As the helicopter hovered over the MOVE house, Powell, still restrained by the harness, moved out onto a step at the side of the cabin. He ignited the fuse, hesitated for an instant, then dropped the canvas satchel containing the makeshift bomb. It plummeted directly onto "a pile of slats and debris" on the roof of the barricaded rowhouse, Powell recalls.
For 42 seconds, 40 members of the police stakeout unit crouched in the street, their hands clasped over their ears, waiting for the burst.
A massive explosion ripped the roof and rocketed debris high into the hazy sky. Windows cracked half a block away.
"When the device detonated, I saw a large cloud of red dust, which was probably the party wall . . . incinerating," recalls Powell.
Flames flared on the timber-strewn rooftop before they disappeared behind billows of black smoke.
In the street, men and women held their hands to their face and began to weep.
The helicopter churned away in a long, lazy circle and passed back over the roof about two minutes after the blast.
"The bunker was not destroyed," Powell says. "There was a hole in the roof, a football-shaped hole about one foot wide, two feet long. I looked down in the hole. There was no fire and no smoke. "
Powell returned to the ground, "and about 15 to 20 minutes later I started to receive information from the stakeout post that there was a fire on the building and that there was heavy smoke. "
Powell went aloft again and observed that "the building (had) started to burn. "
From his bird's-eye view, Powell says, he could see no fire. But one would flare up, small at first, shortly after he flew back to the staging area along Cobbs Creek Park.
Back at the park, Powell said, he waited about a half-hour to discuss with Sambor whether the second explosive device should be dropped on the roof.
During that time, he said, "we heard information over the radio that they were getting black smoke from the building, and then they said there were flames. I went back up in the helicopter to take a look. "
The fire appeared to begin in the precise location where the bomb had dropped and engulfed the rear bunker in flames.
How much time passed before the fire began is unclear. But by 5:53, 26 minutes after the explosive was dropped, Fire Commissioner Richmond said, "We called for a special unit, Engine 57, who came and set up a deluge gun on the southwest corner of 62d and Osage in order to contain that fire. "
About 6 p.m., Richmond said, Engine 57 arrived on the scene.
"Up to that point," he recalls, "we had no real fire problem. "
At the time, Sambor felt that the fire was working to his advantage because it appeared that it would destroy the bunker. The decision was made to let it burn.
About 6:15, the fire spread to adjoining houses. But the second alarm was not sounded until 7:25 p.m., and subsequent alarms were sounded at 8:02, 8:27, 8:47 and 9:35 p.m.
Sometime around 7:30 p.m., stakeout officers posted in the rear alley said they sighted armed MOVE members and exchanged gunfire with at least one of them.
Reports of the armed radicals prompted Richmond to make a critical decision: He would not expose his firefighters to the threat of gunfire in order to save property.
There was also another reason given for the delay - to let the fire burn for a while and smoke out the MOVE members.
"When the incipient fire started, and if you review the tapes, it was incipient for quite a while - a small fire with no major consequence - it then did ultimately do exactly what they wanted it to do - it consumed the bunker and dropped that bunker onto the second floor," Richmond said earlier this week.
"The plan was then to drive the people out of the house. The fire was not (immediately) controlled for that reason," he said.
The decision not to send firefighters in, because of fear they would be endangered by MOVE members, was consistent with Goode's mandate to his chiefs.
"You can rebuild a home," the mayor reiterated the next morning. "You cannot restore life. "
The inaction was costly. When firefighting began in earnest, it was too late.
Flames roared through the neighborhood and blitzed three rows of homes on Osage Avenue and Pine Street. The fire would not be contained until 11:47 p.m. About 250 people would be homeless.
"The decision was made to let the bunker burn," Sambor said at a news conference yesterday. "I made the recommendation, and it was concurred in with the fire commissioner. "
But moments after Sambor spoke, Richmond said that only a thorough investigation would provide all the answers.
"We are entitled to do a proper reconstruction of events, and that takes a great deal of time," the fire commissioner said.
Later, he said that water cannons had been sprayed on the fire only intermittently because the stakeout officers were having trouble seeing the house and any possible activity by MOVE members.
"In addition to that, I had a deputy commissioner who tried three times to attain a position of observation where he could adequately and professionally assess what we were doing," Richmond said. "One time, he was almost
physically thrown out by the stakeout unit for his own protection. "
As of yesterday, Sambor maintained that MOVE had set the fatal fire. Richmond, however, said that he had no evidence to prove or disprove Sambor's theory.
Goode himself was noncommittal. The mayor said he did not know what caused the fire and would not know until the investigation was complete.
The answers may be months, even years, in coming.
At this point, there are even differing opinions as to whether the device dropped was a bomb. Sambor has vehemently insisted it was not.
"It was not a bomb," the commissioner snapped Wednesday night. "A bomb detonates on impact, and I'm certain you have all seen bombs. This was not a bomb. "
Webster's New World Dictionary provides a definition of the word bomb that is almost a precise description of the device Sambor authorized: "An explosive, incendiary, or chemical-filled container, for dropping or hurling, or for detonating by a timing mechanism. "
By and large, police experts around the country were critical of the decision to drop a high explosive in a situation in which innocent children were in imminent danger - particularly when the home was believed to contain ammunition and explosives.
Gerald Arenberg, executive director of the American Federation of Police in Washington, strongly disapproved of the decision to use Tovex.
"I know the officials there have said their tests indicated it wouldn't lead to fire," Arenberg said. "All I can say is, I've gone to about six seminars on explosives and homemade bombs, and in every case, you have fire departments standing by.
"To say there wasn't a chance it could lead to fire, it sounds implausible. I just really can't fathom it. This is exactly the sort of thing terrorists would use. I saw it placing the police as terrorists, like having the IRA or any other radical group come in and handle it. "
Arenberg said there were better options.
"Right there in your home state," Arenberg said, "there are companies that make stun-type weapons that police typically use - stun grenades, smoke grenades and the like, weapons that make a lot of flash and noise and smoke without really injuring anybody."
Frank Bolz, who led the hostage-negotiating team of the New York City Police Department for 10 years and is now a consultant to the FBI, said the decision to blow a small hole in a structure is, in some circumstances, ''tactically sound. "
But he disagreed with using an explosive to attempt to disable the rooftop bunker on the MOVE house. He, too, cited the danger of fire.
"As far as explosive devices always starting a fire, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. . . . But there is always the possibility of fire," he said.
"If they had information about explosives, like whether they were in a cellar or on the top floor, it might make a difference. How much information they had, I don't know. But in any case, with that knowledge, I would be a little hesitant. "
Another consideration, he said, is on what material the device is being dropped. Dropping it into trash or debris would increase the risk of fire, he said.
"But the first choice should always be waiting them out - contain and negotiate," Bolz said. "We've waited as long as two days.
"But if someone was sealed in and was chopping heads off and throwing bodies out, you can't just sit there on your hands. You have to go in and rescue, but, fortunately, we've never had the need for that."
In that sort of situation, with no other method of entry possible, Bolz added, he would approve of the use of an explosive such as Tovex.
Douglas Neiss, editor of Law Enforcement Technology magazine, said he was ''initially appalled" by the use of the explosive, "but I find it difficult to second-guess them (the police). Still, I was wondering why they hadn't just waited. "
One man who defended the Philadelphia Police Department was Tom Cremans, director of Accuracy Systems Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz., which manufactures and sells "low-lethality anti-terrorist munitions." His stock includes stun grenades, a low explosive more commonly used by police departments in hostage incidents to create a diversion.
"I thought the police exercised remarkable restraint in not using the device earlier," he said. "People think, 'Oh my God, what is a police department doing with explosives?' They don't understand that these sort of things represent a decrease in force over going in and shooting it out. It's much better to bring somebody out with their ears ringing and dizzy than on a stretcher full of blood."
Several city bomb squads contacted declined to comment on the MOVE incident, with some saying they were reluctant to criticize the actions of their fellow officers. One New York City bomb-squad detective, who asked not to be identified, said, "We don't use explosives to capture people. We haven't run across anything in which we'd have to."
Another said his superiors had denied him permission to discuss the MOVE incident because his comments might reflect poorly on Philadelphia officials' decision to use explosives.
New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch, however, was unrestrained in his criticism:
"If I had a police commissioner who was so stupid to allow a bomb to be thrown into a house, I would remove him before he would allow that to go through," Koch told reporters.
". . . In my judgment, you should never drop a bomb on a house, period, as a mechanism for securing the surrender of those in the house. . . . I just cannot believe that's an appropriate way of seeking to capture someone."
Goode retorted: "Ed Koch should run his city and leave mine alone."
Clearly, the decision to drop the explosive device on the MOVE bunker, and the death and destruction that followed, caused the most traumatic crisis of Goode's 16-month mayoralty.
Goode had waited; he had negotiated; and, when all those efforts failed, he had designed a plan to remove the radical group from the peaceful West Philadelphia neighborhood. Goode's MOVE strategy, which was conceived with the mandate to protect the lives of both the city's uniformed forces and the lives of those in the MOVE house, had backfired. Not only had at least 11 residents of the MOVE compound died, but dozens of citizens on Osage Avenue had lost their homes.
"My worst fears were realized through this process," Goode lamented at a City Hall news conference yesterday. "I'm a very patient person. I don't believe in confrontation. . . . All I'm saying to you is that we were patient. We did in fact wait a full 14 months. We did, in fact, try everything that I knew how to try to negotiate them out of the house."