I am a Waco native who has lived in Southern California 10 years. I am seeing right now what media overreaction can do to two cities I like very much — Waco and Los Angeles.

Waco has been branded with the reputation for “Wackos from Waco.” Except for Aaron Brown on ABC morning news who has pleasantly and favorably read the front page of your newspaper first for the past 45-plus days, the rest of the media generally are hyper to blame ATF, FBI, newspaper (yours) or others. And Waco’s “Waco” nickname is going to stick for decades. The media said so.

Then in Los Angeles I see absolute hysteria, paranoia and scared people including children created by super-hype by the media. I like Los Angeles and adjacent beach cities and can see this mess getting blown absolutely astronomically out of proportion.

I personally believe some guilt was exhibited by at least some of the police defendants, but regardless, L.A. is not the old segregated South and this racial polarization has strictly been played up by the news media. Heck, the call-in and “informative” programs are scaring people to no end.

Steve Shehorn

Bakersfield, Calif.

A difficult job

The tragedy at Mount Carmel was shocking and, without a doubt, it affected people all around the world. The saddest turn of events was the loss of the innocent children.

My concern in this matter is the fact that some people have declared an “open season” on our law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement would not have wanted the standoff to end the way it did. I’m sure they didn’t enjoy spending 51 days and an Easter holiday in uncomfortable weather conditions and under extreme pressure. For some reason, our society today feels that it is acceptable to vocally abuse public officials such as law enforcement, school officials, officials in sporting events, etc.

Let’s not forget that Vernon Howell was given those 51 days to surrender and that this time period cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. He was the cause of the events that took place and it seems he chose his destiny and the destiny of his followers.

If any mistakes were made, I’m sure they will come out in the upcoming investigation.

I’m sorry for the relatives of all concerned and wish that none of this had happened but let’s put the blame where the blame belongs — Vernon Howell. I stand by and support the professionals who had to make the hard choices, the ones that most of us don’t have to make in a lifetime.

Sam Sexton


From California

Several TV “news magazines” are now interviewing Waco people regarding Waco’s image as a cult community. From what I’ve seen, David Koresh’s “virus” originated somewhere in California, not Waco.

The TV media have occasionally shown shots of the “harem mansion” in which he was a leader in California. Apparently, the Koresh “virus” spread to Waco from California via David Koresh.

It would behoove the media to trace the tragic Mount Carmel outcome not to Waco but to California where Koresh got his training.

Ron Meyer


Forces of evil

As a mainstream Davidian who does not condone and is not affiliated with David Koresh’s actions, I think that this scenario at Elk could have been resolved peaceably if family members and related religious organizations had been involved in the negotiations.

I do not think that suicide was a part of Koresh’s agenda, but he was driven to this ultimate, furious end by the circumstances surrounding the crisis.

Incidents such as Koresh and Jim Jones are devices of the forces of evil to discredit the religious organizations, one of which the Lord is about to magnify himself through.

Norman Archer


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.