Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
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Guyanese radio announcer: It’s good eating with Golden Cream Table Margarine. (Pause)
Guyanese radio newscaster: —Medical evacuation aircraft flew out of Timehri airport this afternoon, eight wounded people, following Saturday afternoon’s shooting that left five Americans dead, including Congressman Leo Ryan. A United States Embassy spokesman said, the wounded persons would be flown to either Andrews Air Force Base or Howards Air Force Base in the Panama Canal. The injured on board were part of a group of American citizens who were visiting the Jonestown agricultural settlement at Port Kaituma on Saturday, then a group opened fire on them. The four others killed in the shooting were NBC reporters Robert Brown and Don Harris, Greg Robinson, photographer for the San Francisco Examiner, and Patricia Mark [sic: Parks], who was said to be a member of the Peoples Temple community at Jonestown. Congressman Ryan came to Guyana last Tuesday to investigate reports that Americans at the Peoples Temple mission settlement — many of whom came from the San Francisco Bay area — were being held there against their will. Accompanying Congressman Ryan were television and news (word unclear under noises made by unknown person at recording end), and some 40 concerned relatives of Americans at the Jonestown settlement. The shooting took place Saturday afternoon, as Congressman Ryan and the party had concluded their visit and were about to board the aircraft to return to Georgetown. Reports said that a man pulled a gun and opened fire, and this was an apparent signal for other armed people to start firing. Congressman Ryan and others were hit in the hail of bullets. The Guyana government has dispatched troops and police to the area. Police have arrested an American in connection with the shooting at Port Kaituma, but the name of the man has not been disclosed.
(Chair squeak at recording end)
Newscaster: Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports reaching Georgetown say there have been mass suicides at the Jonestown settlement. A government spokesman said, they had received a report and have sent out an Army officer to clarify it, but he has not yet reported back. However, at the Peoples Temple Georgetown headquarters, American Mrs. Sharon Amos and her three children [Martin Laurence Amos, Wayborn Christa Amos, Liane Harris] were found dead last night. Police said they were working on the theory of murder/suicide or murder by persons unknown. Mrs. Amos was concerned with making most of the arrangements for Congressman Ryan’s visit to Jonestown. (Pause)
(Beginning of another, unrelated story. Radio dial switched to brief music. End of segment.)
American woman newscaster: —today, the last words to her son warned him about the kind of people he might encounter at a religious commune in the remote jungles of Guyana.
(Expression of dismay at recording end) Oh, boy.
Mrs. Ryan: The last thing I said to him was be very careful. This is Tuesday morning when he was leaving to go. Be very careful, because (pause) this kind of person is emotionally unstable, and quite outside (unintelligible word) discipline, and uh, anything can happen.
Newscaster: Autumn (middle name unintelligible) Ryan, mother of California Congressman Leo Ryan. The 53-year-old Ryan, three newspeople and an unidentified woman were killed last night in Guyana as they were about to leave the jungle airstrip. They were part of a party investigating reports, Americans were being held against their will. At a State Department briefing this afternoon, spokesman Tom Rushton said Ryan and the others have not been moved.
Rushton: The (unintelligible word) of the people who lost their lives at the airport are remaining behind in Guyana at the moment.
Newsman: In Georgetown (unintelligible word, interrupted by Rushton)—
Rushton: No, they are last reported at the airstrip. Uh, we believe they will be transported to Georgetown as soon as possible.
Newscaster: Tom Rushton said autopsies will be performed on the bodies before they’re brought back to the United States.
Person at recording end: Shit.
Newscaster: Guyanese troops reportedly have arrived now in Jonestown. The Associated Press reports the troops have said nothing about reports of mass suicide in the commune. Earlier today, the Guyana government announced the arrest of an American suspected of taking part in the killing. It’s Larry John Layton, whose age and hometown are not known. The State Department now says, attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Garry are in Jonestown, Guyana. Lane, Garry and several others had been believed missing since last night’s attack. ABC’s Ted Koppel at the State Department says, there has been radio communication between the commune and Guyana’s capital of Georgetown, which is how the State Department learned the two were safe. Lane and Garry were in Guyana to act as counsel for Jim Jones, the founder of Jonestown. This is ABC News.
(Commercial, cut off)
Guyana broadcaster: —craft will be arriving at Timehri [Airport] within the hour (noise at recording end blocks one word) relatives of residents of Jonestown. These relatives came into the country last week with the intention of visiting the Peoples Temple settlement, along with the late Congressman, Leo Ryan.
Guyana broadcaster: Also leaving on board the same plane was [Sherwin Harris] the husband of the senior official of the Peoples Temple in Georgetown, Sharon Amos, who along with three— with her three children, were found dead at their home in the city last night. Meanwhile, U.S. President Jimmy Carter has expressed shock and dismay at the martyr[dom] of Congressman Leo Ryan.
(New, unrelated story) (Conversation at recording end) (Tape turned off)
(Rest of side 1 blank)
Side 2: (First 15 minutes are blank)
American newscaster: —known as a man with a penchant for (unintelligible word). Here is a profile of the late congressman.
Reporter: A fellow congressman once described Mr. Ryan as part of the new breed on Capitol Hill, legislators who would go out and see things for themselves. And, we’ve been told, if (Unintelligible phrase) election campaign that almost unseated the 53-year-old liberal Democrat, it was his opponent’s claim that (unintelligible word) Ryan spent too much time away from Washington.
People at recording end: Shh!
Reporter: Mr. Ryan was in Guyana investigating reports, American members of an agriculture commune were being abused and beaten. Many members of the commune came from Mr. Ryan’s home district in California, where the movement known as the Peoples Temple community is based. The congressman and four other Americans died while boarding a plane after visiting the commune.
Mr. Ryan served as a Navy submariner in World War II, and worked as a school superintendent and seventh-grade (unintelligible word; could be “gym”) teacher. He served as mayor of (radio fades for several words) and was a state assemblyman before being elected to Congress in 1972. During the last session of Congress, (electronic beep) Ryan gained prominence for leading a successful fight against President Carter’s plan to create a separate department of education.
Newscaster: That profile of Congressman Leo Ryan, who was killed in an ambush Saturday in Guyana.
Several moments of another, unrelated story. Voices at recording end, unintelligible. Doors open and close.
End of tape
Tape originally posted August 2002