The methods used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the assault on the home of the Branch Davidian sect were criminally reckless and irresponsible.

It is the responsibility of law enforcement to protect innocent life. A peace officer is to do his best to bring suspects safely to trial, not to provoke them to violence.

The assault failed because agents charged an alerted enemy firing from cover. This explanation is being used to deflect criticism of the judgment of those who planned this operation.

The indiscriminate fire of agents [reportedly] killed a two-year-old girl and endangered the lives of many other innocent bystanders. Anyone who watched the news saw film of agents firing wildly into buildings containing women and children.

There is no reason why surrounding the compound and negotiating could not have been tried before bloodshed, except that it would not have generated as much publicity.

Local authorities should make an independent investigation of the conduct of those involved. This kind of reckless behavior must not be tolerated in those who claim to protect the public and to uphold the law.

Michael B. Hari


Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part Two 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.

Read the accounts of 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.