Serial 1681-29

[Editor’s note: One of the subjects of this serial whose name is deleted is NBC soundman Steve Sung, who was wounded during the attack at the Port Kaituma airstrip. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.]

[This section of Serial 1681 covers pages 386-388 of the FBI Report of January 12, 1979.]

FD-302

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date of transcription 11/30/78

[Name deleted] [Steve Sung], employed by [information related to NBC Television], advised that he resides at [address deleted] California [Words deleted]. [Steve Sung] stated that he was among numerous news media people who were assigned to cover a trip to Jonestown, Guyana and to travel with US Congressman Leo J. Ryan (Democrat, California) and several relatives of members of the Peoples Temple. Prior to the Guyana trip, however, [Steve Sung] was among a group of people who attended a presentation concerning the Peoples Temple put on by the Peoples Temple in California. The two attorneys who represented the Peoples Temple were also present at the time of the presentation.

[Steve Sung] advised that he flew from California to New York on Monday, November 13, 1978, and then from New York to Georgetown, Guyana on November 14, 1978. The two attorneys for the Peoples Temple met with Congressman Ryan and the rest of the contingent from the United States on Wednesday evening or Thursday in Georgetown and, on Friday evening, November 17, 1978, they got the “okay” from Attorney Lane to proceed to Jonestown. [Steve Sung] stated that they all then flew from Georgetown to Jonestown where they were delayed at the airstrip for one to two hours before receiving permission to proceed to the Jonestown proper. The whole contingent was transported to Jonestown via truck and the trip took between 45 minutes to an hour, placing them in Jonestown at approximately 7:00 PM. The temple people put on a big ceremony and “God Bless America” was sung. Many of the people appear to be happy, however, that evening, a slip of paper was passed to NBC Correspondent Don Harris by someone who wanted to leave the settlement and return to the United States. None of the visitors were permitted to stay overnight there, so they all left and returned the following day, Saturday, at approximately 10:00 AM. On Saturday at Jonestown, an older woman grabbed Don Harris and indicated she and her family wanted to leave the compound and return to the United States. Harris brought this woman to Congressman Ryan and she and her relatives stated on voice recorded tape that they wished to leave.

[Page 2]
BA 89-173
TWB/MJC:cal

Congressman Ryan then interviewed the Reverend Jones on tape about alleged tortures, disciplinary measures, etc., used against members of the Peoples Temple at Jonestown. Reverend Jones denied all allegations and additionally stated that the only guns in the compound were used strictly by the hunters to obtain food for the members of the church.

When the whole contingent was getting ready to depart the compound for the airstrip, approximately 15 other church members suddenly wanted to “defect”. The visiting contingent and the “defectors” were driven to the airstrip where there were two airplanes waiting. Shortly after the arrival at the airstrip, [Steve Sung] observed a tractor pulling a flatbed truck with canvas over the top. Three men got off the tractor and flatbed, walked toward the reporters and ask which airplane the Peoples Temple members were leaving on. No one responded to this question and a short time later, these individuals pulled weapons from the flatbed and opened fire on the people standing on the airstrip. [Steve Sung] stated that, as he remembers it, the people from the temple who were on or near the tractor when the unprovoked shooting began were one black man named “Stanley [Gieg]” (driver of the tractor), one white male who was approximately 45 years old and appeared to be the leader of this group, and three other Negro males. One woman “defector” was killed as she was about to board one of the airplanes. The engine and tires of one of these airplanes were shot out and, although there were Embassy people in the area, the people doing the shooting seemed to confine their shooting to the contingent from the United States. [Steve Sung] was struck in [his forearm] with a bullet and his cameraman was shot in the leg. The cameraman was moaning when one of the temple people walked up to him and shot him in the head, killing him. [Steve Sung] stated that he remained motionless near his cameraman, feigning death, when he was shot again; an apparent attempt to make sure he was dead. [Steve Sung] stage, laying face down on the airstrip, for approximately one-half hour, and he heard an airplane engine start amongst the noise of people crying. He then ran into the thick brush surrounding

[Page 3]
BA 89-173
TWB/MJC:cal

the airstrip and banded together with others, including a State Department official who had fled. [Steve Sung] stayed overnight in a tent with three other injured individuals and the next morning, Sunday, November 19, 1978, approximately 40 Guyanese soldiers arrived and secured the area so the group could eventually be evacuated.

Originally posted on November 4th, 2017.

Skip to main content