A Waco music store owner has turned his “Hard Copy” experience into hard cash for a scholarship fund commemorating the four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents slain in the Feb. 28 raid on Mount Carmel.
Calvin Ross, owner of Lone Star Music & Sound Co., has donated $4,000 to the Community ATF Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is designed to set up four McLennan Community College scholarships for criminal justice students.
“It’s another example of the selfless giving the community has shown in supporting this fund and the ATF,” said scholarship chairperson Pam Brewer. “Our dream is that the memory of those brave ATF agents would not be forgotten in McLennan County.”
The donation, coupled with $2,235 raised over the weekend by KNFO-FM disc jockeys and Allen Samuels Chevrolet-GEO, pushes fund contributions over the $11,000 mark, more than half of the $20,000 needed for a permanent scholarship endowment.
For Ross and his wife, Melissa, the donation was their way of seeing some good come out of a tragic experience and a brush with national talk shows that they won’t forget for some time.
Branch Davidian leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, often had visited Lone Star Music over the years to buy music and sound equipment for himself and his followers at the Mount Carmel compound.
Howell occasionally asked for a discount since the sound equipment would be used for religious purposes, Ross recalled, which prompted the store owner’s standard response.
“I’d tell him we give all God’s children the same discount,” he said. What made Ross a hot item among television talk show producers in the days after the failed ATF raid at Mount Carmel was a cassette tape Howell had recorded with his band.
Titled “Madman in Waco,” the tape was Howell’s musical attack on George Roden, a rival for the leadership of the Branch Davidians in the late 1980s.
Howell left a copy of the tape on the cash register at Ross’ store. The store owner never gave it a second thought until five years later when an attempt by ATF agents to serve Howell with search and arrest warrants came to a bloody end.
Listening to the tape after the raid, Ross was struck with the lyrics’ eerie parallels with Howell and his leadership. He contacted KXXV’s news department about his tape and the station ran a news story on “Madman in Waco.”
Within days, Lone Star Music was besieged with television talk show requests for personal appearances and interviews. Representatives from “Hard Copy,” “Oprah,” “Donahue,” “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show,” “The Maury Povich Show” and “Dateline: NBC” soon had Lone Star Music’s phone ringing.
“Melissa and I agreed from the beginning to donate whatever we received to a good cause,” Ross recalled. They also wanted to correct any misperceptions about their connection to Howell.
“We didn’t want to be stigmatized as the cult music store in town,” Ross said.
In return for their participation with “Hard Copy” and “Dateline: NBC,” the Rosses received $4,000, all of which they are turning over to the ATF scholarship fund.
That fund will finance four scholarships, each named for an ATF agent killed in the raid, for students in MCC’s criminal justice degree program.
Upcoming scholarship fundraisers include a Waco hair stylist’s “cut-a-thon” June 27 and a community golf tournament June 30, Brewer said.
Those wishing to donate to the scholarship fund may make contributions through the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, she said.