A sworn affidavit filed by federal authorities to justify charging Kathryn Schroeder portrays her as a gun-toting leader in the group’s effort to repulse a raid by federal agents at the Mount Carmel compound Feb. 28.
Federal officials announced Saturday they had charged Schroeder with conspiracy to attempt to kill federal agents during the shootout that left four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms dead and 16 wounded. Schroeder, 34, left the compound on March 12. She was previously being held only as a material witness.
Meanwhile, another Branch Davidian, Ofelia Santoyo, was released into a “halfway house-type setting” by federal officials. Hearings for four others are scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Dennis Green today.
The five-page affidavit used to support the charge against Schroeder, signed by Earl Dunagan, acting resident agent-in-charge of the ATF, quotes a witness who was inside the compound at the time of the shootout. The witness “observed Kathryn Schroeder in possession of what was described as an AR-15 type rifle” and “observed Schroeder giving orders to other female compound residents concerning their functions and guard stations,” according to the affidavit.
The statement quoted two witnesses, whose identities were kept secret to protect them from possible retaliation. “When Witness #2 observed Kathryn Schroeder during these times, Schroeder was wearing military commando style clothing.” the affidavit states. “On more than one occasion after the initial shootout, Schroeder left the second floor area and assumed a guard position in the loft or tower position of the compound.”
That image contrasts sharply with the portrayal by attorney Scott Peterson during two prior detention hearings of Schroeder as a mild-mannered mother of four. On Sunday, Peterson insisted authorities have no reason to charge her with a crime.
Schroeder is the widow of Michael Schroeder, who was killed in a separate skirmish with ATF agents at the compound property Feb. 28. Her four children have left the compound.
The affidavit reiterates allegations made against Schroeder during her second detention hearing March 18 — that she was known as “Sarge” around the compound and that federal prosecutors believe she held a position of authority within the sect. That testimony was not enough to convince U.S. District Judge Walter Smith to keep her in jail. She had been scheduled for release Monday.
After the charges were brought against Schroeder, Smith rescinded the release order.
Meanwhile, 62-year-old Ofeflia Santoyo walked into the federal courthouse in chains and walked out without them. Attorney Russ Hunt said he would be “very surprised” if his client was charged with any crime.
“Generally, we agreed that she’s not dangerous, that she’s not going to run off and that she wants to stay in this area,” Hunt said. “I had someplace I could send her out of state. She doesn’t want to go out of state . . . she wants to stay here.”
Hunt also questioned the value of Santoyo’s testimony and of holding her as a material witness.
“She was in a position where she couldn’t see anybody doing anything,” Hunt said. “She was concerned about bullets flying around.”