Clear view

Many are quick to point a finger at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, citing “improper tactics,” “excessive force,” etc. But have they considered that Vernon Howell’s arms buildup would be continuing this very moment if not for the ATF?

Let me interject here that I am a proud gun-owner and fully support the right to keep and bear arms - but a line must be drawn somewhere. Anyone capable of arming his own private army (even if it is in the name of God) must be considered dangerous and a threat to society.

Clearly something needed to be done about Howell’s increasing arsenal – but, what or more importantly who? Our local sheriff’s office? What would their dead count be? All involved, I’m sure. They should have been aware this needed close observation after the first violence at Mount Carmel in the later 1980’s.

Not only did they seem to “forget” this incident, but reportedly many individuals; i.e. Marc Breault and the Australians and other former Davidians came to our local constabularies to warn and plead with them to diffuse the volatile situation at Mount Carmel. Yet our local officials did nothing.

Four men came to our fair city from their homes elsewhere to die for something local officials turned their back on. No, the ATF doesn’t deserve scrutiny. Our local “officials” do.

Pat Owens

Waco

Offer to help

To all the law-enforcement agencies at Mount Carmel: With all the criticism directed toward you in this terrible and drawn-out situation, I would like to let you know that I and all the people I have spoken with are behind you 100 percent.

If there is anything we can do to make this ordeal more tolerable for you, just let us know.

Dorothy Pelton

Bellmead

Watch and wait

I am appalled at the way the ATF handled the situation with the cult.

They watched David Koresh for nine months. They had plenty of time to arrest him when he was alone.

Now I know the meaning of W.A.C.O. It means We Ain’t Coming Out.

Kati Mayfield

Waco

Free press

I do not usually agree with the editorial stance of the Tribune-Herald. However, I do know that your news staff is committed to doing the best job possible to give McLennan County and Waco the news of the day.

Trib employees are committed to the principles of a free press, have high ethical standards and strive to be as accurate as humanly possible. The filing of a lawsuit against the Tribune- Herald is an attempt by some to lay blame where there is no blame.

I hope that the citizens of McLennan County will stand behind their newspaper and not believe all the rumors, half-truths and lies that are abounding on television news programs. A free press means a free people.

Deborah S. Reece

Hewitt

No blame

The Tribune-Herald cannot be blamed for the incident at Mount Carmel. No one can be blamed for it. There were too many circumstances leading up to it anyway. I had never even heard about Vernon Howell until the “Sinful Messiah” series.

One reason the Tribune- Herald should not be blamed is the fact the authorities let this situation get out of hand. The authorities did not need to take so long to watch Howell. They have known for a while that the Branch Davidians have complied a small arsenal of weapons. The authorities should have done something about it when they first got the tangible evidence.

Second, the Tribune-Herald is a newspaper. It is its job to inform people of the events in the area. The fact that I didn’t know about Howell scares me. With the arsenal he has, he could have done tremendous damage to the Waco area and no one would have been prepared for it.

It would have been an even greater tragedy that the one taking place now. Therefore, the Tribune-Herald was fulfilling its job by informing, thereby protecting, the people.

Jason Stambaugh

Waco

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.