I caught the end of a news story about a group holding signs covered with slogans degrading the ATF and their actions at the Branch Davidian compound.

I was disturbed and angry to say the least. The compound was not stormed because of an “intolerance for their different beliefs.” It was raided because its members were breaking the law. They were stockpiling illegal weapons, not to mention the allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children, and of people being held against their will.

These came from testimonies of people who were once on the inside of the compound.

When someone’s beliefs infringe upon the rights and well-being of others, then it’s time to intervene.

Tana Sharp


Rights not safe

I am writing concerning an incident that I still cannot believe has happened in this country. As I understand it, there was never an attempt to serve the search warrants [on the Branch Davidians] peaceably.

I am afraid that the truth will never come out concerning who really fired the first shot. That the inhabitants of the center defended their families and home from violent assault is, to me, entirely understandable and justified. That U.S. citizens were put in such a position by their own government, our government, is unbelievable.

What had the people of Mount Carmel actually done to deserve the violent attack? This incident should frighten and anger all U.S. citizens. As proven in many countries throughout history, when the rights of one group are trampled, the rights of none are safe.

Denise Howard


Alarming signs

Some of the letters I have seen and signs carried by some of the [anti-government] protesters are very alarming.

One of the signs I saw carried by one of the protesters on the TV the other night said, “Is your church ATF approved?” That is stupid. No church will ever be approved by ATF or anyone else when their members have .50-caliber machine guns and will use them against our law enforcement community.

The cult at Mount Carmel was in violation of state and federal firearms laws. It is the sworn duty of our peace officers to protect the general public from radicals such as those involved.

The ATF and FBI and other agencies involved cannot give us the complete story of this episode until it is brought to a conclusion. Let’s not be too quick to condemn our officers until we have all the details.

Of course the women and children need to be protected to the best of everyone’s ability. But let’s not forget the families of the dead and wounded officers.

Ronnie Garner


A stronghold

In response to Fred Grimes, who thinks the government should seize the property of the Branch Davidians. I believe he has a good point.

It would give the central government a good stronghold in a free state from which it could seize more property. Maybe his.

T.C. Speer

Walnut Springs

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.