Branch Davidian cult members fired at federal agents Feb. 28 as a reaction to the government’s decision to “make war,” a cult member told a federal judge Friday.

“What happened on Feb. 28 was not our doing, but the government’s doing,” Branch Davidian Kevin A. Whitecliff told U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. “They decided to make war against us, and our response was in reaction to their actions.”

Smith summoned Whitecliff and Branch Davidian Livingstone Fagan to court because they are represented by the same attorney, Steve (Rocket) Rosen of Houston.

The judge wanted to make sure that the men, charged with nine other cult members with murdering four federal agents in the Feb. 28 raid at Mount Carmel, understand the potential for a conflict of interest by having the same attorney.

Both told the judge that they approve of the arrangement and are confident in Rosen’s abilities. By doing so, both men waived their right to possible appeals based on ineffective assistance of counsel, Smith told them.

The judge gave as an example of a potential conflict a scenario where two people rob a bank and one, in the middle of trial, changes his defense and testifies that the other one made him do it. If both men are represented by the same attorney, they could cause a conflict, he said.

Rosen said after the brief hearing that the Branch Davidians are putting up a unified defense and he does not foresee a possible conflict of interest in the case.

Asked if Whitecliff’s statement to the judge showed signs of frustration, Rosen said cult members are eager to tell their side of the story.

“I think the only frustration that has set in is that they want to have their say,” Rosen said. “They want the American public, the public throughout this world, to hear what they have to say.

“No one has listened to them. They haven’t had their opportunity to speak out, and probably when Mr. Whitecliff stood up before the court, this was his first opportunity to really speak out and say what is on his mind and give us a brief idea of what he is thinking. I won’t stop him from doing that.”

Smith moved the trial, set to begin Jan. 10, from Waco to San Antonio because of the excessive publicity.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.