Didn’t meet test

This letter represents my observation only regarding the Davidian standoff and tragic end. A lesson that was bought with American blood in World War II was, “He who wins gets there first with the most.”

The ATF did not meet either test Feb. 28. It should have withdrawn and met the second requirement and returned to finish the job. Is not that what we paid them to do?

Let’s look at the facts. Howell is said to have discussed suicide with his followers. The structure was largely wood and could be made to burn very rapidly on a windy day. No mention has been made as to fire-fighting equipment inside the building. Outside equipment was several miles away.

The federal authorities cut off the electricity denying them light. The operations of April 19 began almost an hour before sunlight. Now in the presence of darkness, gunfire and tear gas, women and children were expected to exit in good numbers, to say nothing of the demands Howell may have had on them.

Does this sound like anyone who had the safety of innocent children’s best interest on their mind?

Charles Daily


Greater tragedy

Dear Waco: I have two questions for you.

If Mount Carmel had been occupied by an armed white supremacy group or an armed drug operation would you be so quick to question the actions of the federal agents?

There is so much sympathy for the 17 children whose parents decided they need not live any longer. Where is the sympathy for the hundreds each day whose mothers decide they need not live at all?

A tragedy has occurred in our midst. But greater tragedies occur each day, tragedies we prefer to ignore in the name of “privacy.” Wake up, Waco, and have compassion on those around you.

Stanley D. Harstine


Did their best

Our prayers are with the agents of ATF and FBI who did their best to save those children.

I know they feel they failed. Please let them know that the matter was taken out of their hands by the arrogance and cowardice of David Koresh.

Please thank them for having been our protectors, even of those children whom they could not save.

During the 51 days that these federal agents were in our city and during the numerous exposures which all of us had to them, there has been no report on any person to indicate that person was a discredit to himself or to his government. They were always excellent citizens and good neighbors.

Though this tragedy leaves us perplexed and angry at people who do what Koresh did, it also leaves us grateful for the local, county, state and national network of law enforcement officers who put their lives between us and danger — and they never know when they will be called upon to do so.

The four ATF agents did not die in vain. They have shown our nation, again, that we are a society that will be ruled by law.

It will be law that shows wise restraint, but it will be law that demands an unrelenting response of obedience to that which we as a people have said is just and right.

Rev. Richard M. Freeman


Results of liar

Was the cult obedient to God? No; their leader was a liar.

Revelation, Chapter 21 verse 8, tells about the results of a liar. Sin causes our trouble just as it did for the cult.

S.J. Callaway


Saved our lives

Mount Carmel was truly a tragedy, but the bottom line is that the Branch Davidians were warned before the use of tear gas was implemented and they chose not only to stay inside, but to hang up the phone and refuse to communicate with the FBI.

Why are people so sympathetic with the criminal aspect and fail to realize that the FBI and ATF may have saved many of our lives, and, in so doing, lost and injured many of their own?

Rachel I. Butler


Broke the law

I would just like to say that I think the FBI and the ATF did a good job. I do not think the federal agents deserve the criticism they are getting.

If Vernon Howell and his cult members had not been breaking the law, the ATF would not have had warrants for them in the first place.

I think attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Jack Zimmerman should go back to Houston and quit saying things that they know are not true.

Frances McGee


No false guilt

Who’s to blame?

Not the media, not the ATF or FBI, and not our government officials. The evil man David Koresh and the people in the cult who gave the responsibility of their lives over to him and surrendered responsibility for their own thinking brought about the sacrifice of their own children for their own egotistical needs to be right in their eyes.

They were the cause of their own destruction, as horrifying and deeply saddening as it was.

While we feel compassion and sorrow over the loss of the little children and even the adult cult members who had lost touch with reality, let us not as a city become paralyzed with false guilt.

Let us work toward an open community where freedom and respect for children are chief values.

Shay Johnson


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.