[Editor’s note: This FD-302 interview with Tim Reiterman – a San Francisco Examiner reporter who survived the attack at Port Kaituma on November 18, 1978 – also appears as part 32 of Serial 1681, the FBI’s 387-page report of January 12, 1979. While each version of the interview had a unique deletion – designated by blue type – in neither interview was the subject identified. The deleted information which is known to the editor is indicated by red type.
[In addition, an earlier version of this serial included a half line of type which was deleted from this version. That earlier information is designated by green type.
[This copy of the FD-302 at Serial 1212-4 is much more legible.]
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date of transcription 11/30/78
[Four lines of information identifying Tim Reiterman deleted] was located and interviewed at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center located on Andrews Air Force Base, Camp Springs, Maryland. [Reiterman] advised the following:
[Reiterman] advised that [Released in Serial 1681-32: he has been reporting on] the activities of the Peoples Temple, a religious cult headed by the Reverend Jim Jones, [1/2 line deleted] [for the last year and a half]. This cult, which was founded in Indiana, moved to California, specifically to the Redwood Valley area, approximately sometime in 1965. It later moved to San Francisco, California and still maintains their main temple in San Francisco. Approximately two years ago, Reverend Jones founded a settlement in Guyana, South America, which he named Jonestown, and a number of his followers have been residing for quite some time. During the last year and a half, there have been numerous allegations concerning mistreatment of some of the followers within the Jonestown settlement.
Sometime in early November of this year, he learned of a pending trip to the Jonestown settlement by Congressman Leo Ryan of California and he made appropriate arrangements through Ryan’s office and [one line deleted] to accompany Congressman Ryan on this trip. The group, which was to visit the Jonestown settlement, consisted of Congressman Ryan and his congressional aide Jackie Speiers [Speier], approximately nine news people representing various newspapers and television networks and an unknown number representing the concerned relatives group. The concerned relatives group consisted of members of the immediate families of some of the followers of Reverend Jones who were living in Jonestown and who were believed to be mistreated and, in some cases, held there against their will.
The group left San Francisco on the night of November 13, 1978 and traveled to New York City via United Airlines. On the 14th of November, the group left New York
via Pan American Airlines and arrived around midnight on November 14, 1978 in Georgetown, Guyana, making one stop en route at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
In Georgetown, the group stayed at the Pegasus Hotel for the next three nights; that night as well as Wednesday and Thursday nights. During this time, Congressman Ryan had several meetings with attorneys Mark Lane and Charles Gary [Garry], who were representing Reverend Jones and the Peoples Temple. These attorneys had arrived in Guyana on separate airlines and negotiated with Congressman Ryan concerning his visit to the Jonestown settlement. On Friday morning, November 17, 1978, these attorneys finally gave the okay for Congressman Ryan and his aide, the news people and four members of the concerned relatives group, Carol Boyd, Jim Cobb, Beverly Oliver, and Anthony Katsaris, to meet with Jones at the Jonestown settlement. This group, along with Lane and Gary, flew into Port Kaituma on a charter flight of the Guyanese airlines, which left Georgetown approximately 2:00 p.m. and arrived at Port Kaituma roughly between 3:00 and 3:30 PM on the 17th.
[Reiterman] was told by the unnamed pilot of that plane that the Peoples Temple had called the Georgetown tower to advise them that they should land at Matthews Ridge rather than Port Kaituma due to the fact that the runway at Port Kaituma was supposedly too wet to land on. The pilot, however, after flying over the Port Kaituma airstrip, felt that it was not too wet and he put them down at Port Kaituma instead of continuing on to Matthews Ridge.
After landing, Gary and Lane would not allow anyone except Congressman Ryan to go into Jonestown and everyone else had to remain at the airport. After Congressman Ryan was gone for approximately two or three hours, an individual from the settlement by the name of Jim McElvane came out to the airport and advised that everyone else could now come into the settlement. At the settlement, the group was given a tour of the mission and they had dinner there. Members of the settlement also put on a disco dancing show on the stage for them. They were allowed to speak to some members of the group and were also allowed to talk to Reverend Jones. The entire group desired to spend the night
at the settlement, however, Jones refused to give them permission and only allowed Congressman Ryan and his aide to stay overnight in the settlement. The rest of the group was transported back to Port Kaituma where they were to spend the night at Mike and Sons Disco. They were supposed to be picked up and returned to the settlement around 8:30 AM the next morning, however, they were not picked up and taken back to Jonestown until approximately 10:30 AM. During the second day at the settlement, they were allowed to see even more of the settlement, including some places that they had not seen the previous day. At first it seemed like all the people in the settlement were quite happy there, however, Congressman Ryan and members of the news media then began receiving notes from some of the Peoples Temple members stating that they would like to leave the settlement and accompany the Ryan party back to the United States. Reverend Jones was confronted with this information and he became rather disturbed and agitated over the number of people who wanted to leave.
At approximately 3:00 PM, the group, along with 16 defectors from the settlement, were to return to the airport for the flight back to Georgetown and then on to the United States. There were a number of other residents of the settlement who wished to leave Georgetown [Jonestown], however, there was no room for them on the truck that was to go out and hence, they would have to remain. Many of them expressed fear for their lives while Congressman Ryan and the news people were going to the airport and for this reason, Congressman Ryan agreed to stay with them and go on the second truckload out to the airport. As the first group was getting ready to leave, there was a big commotion over at the outdoor pavilion inside the settlement and Don Harris of NBC went over to find out what the problem was. Harris then waved to them and he, [Reiterman] and several others ran over and found out that an unknown member of the settlement tried to kill Congressman Ryan by slitting his throat. Congressman Ryan told him that it was Gary and Lane who prevented the attacker from killing him. Congressman Ryan did have some blood of his shirt, however, he was not injured and it was determined that the blood was that of his attacker. At this time, Johnny Jones, Reverend Jones’ adopted son, came over to the group and suggested that they get on their way to the airport before any further disturbance arose. The group then returned to the truck, along with Congressman Ryan, and started out to the airport.
When the truck left the gate at the entrance to Jonestown, the chain blocking the entrance was up and Joe Wilson, a Negro male, approximately 5’9″ tall with plaited hair, and a Mr. Edwards, not further described, came to the back of the truck and demanded to see all the people in the truck who were leaving, ostensibly to search for Wilson’s wife and child whom he suspected were trying to defect. Neither Wilson’s child or wife were found on the truck and the truck was then allowed to continue on to the airport. Also included on the truck was an escort man from the settlement by the name of Birdwell (phonetic), who is a white male, approximately 22 years old.
En route to the airport, they did observe a tractor with a flatbed trailer on it and some wood on the trailer.
Also while they were en route, Jim Cobb, who was an ex-member of the Peoples Temple, as well as some of the other unidentified defectors, advised him that they feared Larry Layton, who was also in the truck and presented himself as being a defector. They told him that Layton was just too close to Reverend Jones and they did not believe that he was truly defecting. They believed he was armed and probably was sent by Jones to cause some kind of problem. The group was very apprehensive about Layton and the possibility of trouble either along the way or at the airstrip.
While at the airport, because of the people’s fear of Layton and perhaps some of the other defectors not being true defectors, they decided to frisk all of the people getting on the two planes. Larry Layton was observed by him going to the back side of the smaller airplane to avoid being frisked and then slipping back in line after some of the other people were frisked. Layton also insisted that he be allowed to go on the smaller plane and he accomplished this by somehow convincing Congressman Ryan to allow him to go on the smaller plane, which was going to be the first plane to leave. [Reiterman] could only assume that Layton probably convinced Congressman Ryan that because of his closeness to Jones, he would be in a better position to give him more information on what Jones was really up to.
During this time, he observed the truck that took him to the airport parked over by the far side of the airstrip and parked next to it was the tractor which they had seen earlier. The tractor then came over towards the metal shed which was used as a shelter for passengers, and he observed someone on the tractor wave to some Guyanese children to get out of the way. At this point, he turned to [his news photographer] Greg Robinson, and said “I think all hell’s gonna break loose here.” He then moved over towards the small plane and helped frisk people to help expedite getting the plane loaded to get out of there. At this time, he had his back to the tractor when he heard the first shot go off and he immediately ran around the plane and hit the ground. At this time, he felt a bullet enter [Released in Serial 1212-4: his] [information deleted] and he, after getting to the back side of the airplane, then decided to get up and make a run for it to the woods. While doing this, he observed a number of other people doing the same thing. He ran approximately 100 yards into the woods and then stayed there until the shooting stopped and he saw other people leaving the woods and going back out to the airstrip.
When he returned to the airstrip, he found out that Congressman Ryan, Don Harris of NBC, Bob Brown, a cameraman, Greg Robinson, [his news photographer], and one of the defectors, a female, (first name unknown) [Patty] Parks, had been killed and a number of the other people had been wounded. He did not see any of the people who actually did the shooting and feels that the shooting was done by approximately three or four people.
Neither of the planes got off the ground before the shooting started and he was told later by Dale Parks that Larry Layton, who was aboard the smaller plane did pull out a weapon and attempt to shoot someone before he was subsequently subdued. Layton was turned over to the Guyanese people and his weapon was turned over to Dick Dwyer, an aide at the U.S. Embassy in Guyana. After the shooting, it was determined that a tire on the larger plane had been shot out and it could not be moved. Both pilots and one of the injured persons, name unknown, left in the smaller plane and were to obtain assistance from the Guyanese government.
The remainder of the group brought the wounded to one end of the airstrip where there was a tent. This tension was being used by four Guyanese soldiers who were guarding a disabled government plane. The group then took turns watching over the wounded and being alert to the fact that the people from Jonestown may return to start some more shooting. The Jonestown people never returned and Guyanese troops finally arrived the next morning, Sunday, and assisted them in the evacuation of the wounded and the rest of the group from Port Kaituma to Georgetown and subsequently back to the United States. He did not know the exact number of people that actually left Port Kaituma because some of the people who ran into the jungle when the shooting began were still missing and some of their immediate families refused to leave Guyana without them.
[Reiterman] advised that Larry Layton is a white male, approximately 25 to 30 years old, slight build. He stated that the only weapon he observed was a .38 caliber revolver which supposedly was taken off of Larry Layton.