Words of fools

Until you’ve stood in the shoes of the person in question, you really have nothing to say. Oh, it’s easy to look back now and say what the ATF or the FBI officials should have done at Mount Carmel.

For example, you can say that ATF agents should have contacted the sheriff for assistance and that only a handful of agents should have entered the complex with sheriff deputies to serve the warrants.

But you are assuming that Vernon Howell would have been friendly to the local authorities and that he would have allowed them in.

Our local officers are not as well trained or prepared as ATF agents, and there probably would have been no retreat. When word of dead and wounded officers began flooding across the county, there would have been a massive response by local authorities who would have no idea of the heavy fire-power they would be met with as they raced to try to save the lives of their fellow officers. This would surely have ended in a tragic blood bath that would have forever altered the lives of the people of Waco and McLennan County.

Condemning the men who put their lives on the line to protect us and our country from a well-armed murderer, child abuser, sexual pervert and liar such as Vernon Howell is nothing more than the wasted words of fools.

Joe Neal


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.