Gave all

In his March 9 letter, Michael Hari stated that the methods used by ATF at Mount Carmel were “criminally reckless and irresponsible.” He also implied they provoked the resulting violence.

Hari failed to mention that the ATF believed there was a federal firearms violation involved, and it had a legal warrant to inspect and arrest. He also failed to mention the federal officers were clearly marked with “POLICE” and “ATF” on their jackets to properly identify them.

Whether the federal officers should have proceeded with the warrant or negotiated with the members is now a moot point. The fact remains that four federal officers were killed and many more wounded and it was the Branch Davidians who opened fire first, another point Hari failed to mention.

I don’t believe in killing innocent bystanders, but I do believe in self-defense. ATF agents responded appropriately in trying to protect and defend themselves. You’re just as dead from a gun fired by a woman or child as you are from that of an adult.

Where’s the outrage and compassion over the loss of those who gave their all in carrying out their duty to protect and serve?

Joseph Stardt


Not so unusual

The Grand Wizard of the KKK, Lake Waco Triple Murders, Kenneth McDuff and now Branch Davidians — what is there about this buckle on the Bible belt that nurtures such evil?

Perhaps local law enforcement did not pursue the allegations ex-members were making against Vernon Howell because what the Branch Davidians espouse is not so very different from what most Central Texans espouse.

Most Central Texans believe they alone know the true will of God and waste no time in sharing their messages of what the Bible really means. Vernon Howell is that philosophy carried to the extreme. When it comes to the Bible and Howell’s knowledge, could he really be that dangerous?

Given the abundance of legal weapons in the hands of private citizens in this state, in the eyes of local law enforcement, is it really so strange for someone to prepare for the end of the world as Howell did?

I’ll bet there are a lot of people in Waco who marveled at Howell’s ingenuity. Obviously, this was a tragedy in the making for a lot of reasons.

Susan Harrison


Did their best

In reference to the Branch Davidian ordeal, it’s easy for people in the civilian world to sit back and judge our law enforcement on all levels.

Civilians have had no formal training and have not had to deal with the numerous situations as have the law enforcement officials. I believe these ladies and gentlemen have done the best to their ability, given the circumstances.

I believe that everyone involved should be commended on a job well done, no matter what the outcome. After all, they have done their very best.

Cindy Long



On Feb. 27, the Tribune-Herald began a series on the Branch Davidians. While the story revealed numerous facts about the cult, I feel that it represents irresponsible journalism in its worst form. I have several reasons for this assertion.

First, on Feb. 28, when the ATF descended on the cult compound, the Davidians were waiting for them. The possibility exists that the stories in the paper caused the Branch Davidians to be a higher alert level than would be normal.

Second, on March 1, the paper admitted that the ATF had warned it that an investigation was in progress. If the paper knew action was in progress, why did it suddenly decide after a month that the action was inadequate and that the series needed to be run?

We have a free press in this country. The press has the right to inform the public, just as the public has the right to be informed. However, with that freedom comes responsibility.

The press should not knowingly endanger an investigation and in doing so possibly endanger lives only to get a story out first.

Eric W. Cox


Poor coverage

I would like to say Channel 10 did a great job on the morning of Feb. 28 in coverage of Mount Carmel. But after that Waco news coverage went down.

The Dallas TV stations went on and covered more of it. Channel 8 and 5 stayed on with it into Sunday primetime. None of Waco TV stations did. On March 2 Channel 8 was live in Waco for all the afternoon but Waco wasn’t.

Also, radio KRLD and KLIF did a lot of live on air but most of Waco radio wasn’t. It just seems that Dallas media is more committed to Waco than Waco media.

It may be that Waco media was asked to not cover as much. But I just can’t understand why with a satellite dish there they couldn’t get more coverage from all over. This is why I don’t have cable anymore because all I could get would be Channel 8. I have an antenna that I am able get all the Dallas and Waco stations.

Rick Allison


The difference

I never thought I would try to explain my Christianity in this secular newspaper, but with recent local cult violence, this becomes a public matter, not to be isolated in churches and quiet talks with unsaved friends.

To start with, every cult quotes the Bible frequently. Just quoting from it regularly doesn’t make a Christian. Jesus warned us clearly, saying: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many” (Mark 13:5). Some will even work miracles (Matthew 7: 21-23). Christians have been expecting the cult increase, and that it will get much, much worse.

If you want to understand the difference between a cult and genuine Christianity, it’s simple. Christians truly believe that Jesus Christ is God himself: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30-33). He alone is able to save: “Salvation is found in no one else” (Act. 4:12). This belief must be followed by action to be of any use. “…unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-8). We have, as a result, surrendered our lives to him. We worship God alone, and not any man.

Bradley Hargrove


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.