Fair aim

Although not of the Catholic faith, I feel I should see a priest to confess a grievous sin. I once voted for a Libertarian candidate, not knowing of their nutty political stance.

After the nauseating spectacle of their protest of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, I became painfully aware of their peculiar views and repented in sack-cloth and ashes. Mea maxima culpa.

To even think of abolishing the agency responsible for enforcing laws regarding illegal weapons at a time when terrorists are blowing up buildings, street gangs terrorize our cities, and school children are being shot . . . due to the proliferation of guns, is nothing but sheer lunacy.

I am neither a wild-eyed gun nut nor gun-control fanatic. I own several guns and have no objection to any law officer checking the legality of them. I have never been raided by the ATF. Of course, I have never bought assault rifles, hell-fire switches, rocket launchers, explosives, grenades or machine guns either. Nor have I boasted of having a weapon capable of blowing a Bradley 40 feet into the air.

If we must abolish something in the interest of the country, perhaps it should be the Libertarian Party, and not the ATF or any law enforcement agents who daily risk their lives in an effort to control deadly weapons in the hands of maniacs.

B.R. Thomas


Special thanks

This letter is from Detroit to the people of the Waco area.

I would like to express my appreciation and that of this entire ATF Field Division for the tremendous support the people of Waco have exhibited to ATF special agents and support people since the incident two weeks ago.

This office dispatched 19 special agents to your city immediately after the shooting to assist in the subsequent operation.

In my conversations with the assigned agents, and reports received from family members, we are constantly being told of the overwhelming support they have received from citizens in the Waco area.

More food than can be possibly consumed consistently appears at command posts and the many check points. People stop special agents to express their sympathy to our people and to the families of the slain special agents.

Please believe me when I say, we in ATF genuinely appreciate the treatment and hospitality shown by the people of Waco under such tragic circumstances.

Bernard H. La Forest

Special Agent in Charge, ATF Detroit Field Divison


The news media have made the assault on Mount Carmel a big turmoil with the people around the world. The media have made reports that they are not even sure about themselves.

They say, We have been told, “or” It’s believed to be true, and then the reports they tell to the public are not even true.

The media are just getting in the way of the FBI and ATF while they are trying to settle the hostage situation. The media should stay out of the way. When the FBI or ATF wants to tell the media what’s going on, that is when they should start their reports to tell to the public.

I feel that the media are good to inform the public but I wish they would wait until they have all the facts and are sure what they are telling us is the absolute truth.

Kiley Kendrick


Real threat?

Two basic questions that I have regarding the assault on Mount Carmel: Who pressured the ATF to assault when it did, and why the urgency in regard to the exact timing of it?

Contradictions abound about a number of things. Officials say three members tried to shoot their way out, and one was killed. Yet, how can anyone run past the army outside?

Also, if officials claim cult members were a “threat,” then why were they not arrested right then and there at the sheriff’s department when they had previously “visited . . . department” (Associated Press Feb. 28) answering the complaint?

Why was Sunday’s warrant not served two weeks earlier or six days later, rather than on that day after widespread news about the group began? Did then some in Waco seek to avoid bad publicity regarding Waco and the cult and thus pressure law enforcement to do something about the cult’s presence quickly?

Jose Martinez



While this is not an exoneration of David Koresh—however deluded he may be—I feel it necessary to point out some basic truths which seem to have been conveniently overlooked by the media and law enforcement establishment.

From what I have gathered, the Branch Davidians are a reclusive order composed of peaceful working people who were harming no one and had no intention of doing so. But by storming through the cultists’ complex like so many paramilitaristic cowboys, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was practically pleading for a confrontation, and hence, precipitated a deadly exchange that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

Had the Branch Davidians been torturing people or conducting human sacrifices, I could’ve understood the urgency. But because someone had a few guns? Guns and equipment that could be purchased legally by any certified gun dealer? This is dubious, indeed.

Could it be that the ATF may have just ever so slightly overstepped its bounds in this case?

It should therefore be duly noted that it was through the machismo of the ATF that it inevitably brought this situation upon itself and also brought about the subsequent disruption of the entire community.

Michael Field


Too much power

It is downright scary when one stops to think of the power the ATF has over our local law enforcement agencies.

As more and more restrictive gun laws are passed we are all going to be vulnerable to a 7 a.m. Sunday knock on the door by brown-shirted national police force agents and/or blue helmeted U.N. peace-keepers, shades of Adolph.

When are the law-abiding gun owners going to wake up and realize what is really going on?

W.E. Smith



Since Rowland Nethaway is apparently so mystified by the out-pouring of anti-government and anti-ATF sentiment, I would like to attempt to provide him with an explanation.

Obviously, Nethaway is a Federalist, and feels the federal government has absolute power over the people.

However, most rank and file citizens do not feel that way, for the following reasons:

  • They’ve read their constitution, which places final power in the hands of the people.
  • Many of them, like myself, discovered during the Vietnam War era that Congress is a greater threat to our continued freedom than the Vietnamese were.
  • They see the liberal-mindset for what it is and have no wishes to become the next great socialist experiment.

Rev. Ronald Walker


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.