Shooting erupted. Police claimed they were under attack by automatic weapons (even though only four guns were later found, none of them automatic firearms) and fired an estimated 10,000 rounds at the MOVE house. The fire department sought to knock down the rooftop blockhouse with water cannon but failed.
It was then that city officials decided to deliver a bomb, made from four pounds of military grade plastic explosive, via helicopter. The massive explosion failed to destroy the blockhouse but did start a fire.
"There was a decision to let the fire burn," Goode later explained to the investigatory commission. He claimed he gave orders to extinguish the flames, but the city fire chief denied he ever got that order.
There were six children and seven adults in the house. Some tried to escape, and at least one was allegedly forced back into the burning building by police. Ward and Ramona Africa were the only ones to make it out alive.
Ramona was convicted of rioting. She and some remaining members of MOVE are still attempting to get their fellow members released from prison.
According to the Inquirer's obituary story on Ward, the city administration settled a civil lawsuit in 1991 that paid Ward and his father $840,000, plus $1,000 a month each for life.
The fire ignited by the explosion went out of control and burned an entire neighborhood. (In another of those chilling aftermath revelations, the documentary notes that the city rebuilt those destroyed houses and all were condemned in 2000 because of shoddy construction.)
The film uses extensive and extraordinary footage from TV news video about MOVE, the two confrontations with police that turned fatal, and testimony at the investigatory commission's public hearings.
The commission eventually found city officials and police negligent.
No criminal charges were ever filed against any city employee.
Let It Burn makes certain that those responsible for this tragedy won't be forgotten.
Let The Fire Burn
Starting Fri., Nov. 1 at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006, realartways.org