A third tape released on the Mount Carmel raid shows that the Branch Davidians defiantly refused offers of medical help, while authorities tried to maneuver cult member Wayne Martin into a leadership position.
Waco police released the tape Friday.
The tape, like two others released earlier, illustrated Lt. Larry Lynch’s cool head on Feb. 28. Lynch, of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department, was at 9-1-1 headquarters in downtown Waco when cult member Wayne Martin called the emergency number.
For the next several hours, Lynch found himself a conduit between frantic Branch Davidians and a bewildered Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Lynch struck up a rapport with Martin, a Waco attorney, and worked with him to secure the release of the ATF dead and wounded after the agency unsuccessfully tried to arrest cult leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, for possession of automatic weapons.
But when Lynch offered medical help to the wounded Branch Davidians, he received a startling answer.
“Lynch, here’s the message,” Martin said.
“I’m here,” Lynch said. “Go ahead. Give me your count.”
“We don’t want anything from your country,” Martin said.
“You don’t want any help from us?” Lynch asked. “Please let us help you, Wayne. If you’ve got serious people, we’ve got medical people out here. Let’s take care of them. Let’s don’t let someone pass because they didn’t get help.”
“That’s what our wounded are telling us,” Martin said. “They don’t want your help. I’m just passing it on.”
Later, a somber Martin told Lynch, “Everyone here is in danger. You and I are responsible for a lot of lives.”
“So far, we’re doing the right thing,” Lynch said.
“You got your wounded out of here,” Martin said.
“We did get the wounded because you worked with me,” Lynch said. “You and I got it done. I couldn’t have done it without you, and you know that. Now, what we’ve got to do is move forward. We’ve got a lot of responsibility hanging on us right now. So let’s make this thing work, OK?”
“OK,” Martin said. “I can tell you right now that they’re not going to leave the property.”
“Whose decision is it?” Lynch asked. “Is it David’s decision?”
“No, it’s not,” Martin said. “Each man is making his own decision.”
“Each man is making his own decision,” Lynch said. “That’s understandable. But don’t let someone die.”
“Some of them are dying,” Martin said.
“No, don’t let someone die,” Lynch said.
“It’s what they want,” Martin said.
“Are you sure someone is not making the decision for them?” Lynch asked.
“I’m sure,” Martin said.
A DPS negotiator talking on another line offered Lynch strategy for changing Martin’s mind.
“Maybe we could work on him a little bit,” the negotiator said.
“Look, Wayne, I know they may not be thinking right because they’re injured. You need to maybe think for them.”
“A little guilt trip there, huh?” Lynch asked.
“He seems to be available to take that kind of guilt,” the negotiator said, “. . . You can mold him into the leader of the group.”
“That’s what I tried to do, but I think Steve may be a little stronger,” Lynch said, referring to Steve Schneider, Howell’s chief lieutenant.
The negotiator said Martin’s profession gave authorities a chance to end the standoff. Once again, he offered Lynch a ‘script’ for steering Martin into leadership.
“ ‘You’re an attorney. Why don’t you bring David out, and we’ll discuss this thing?’” the negotiator said. “’You’ve got control of this situation. You’re the attorney’ . . . That’s the kind of idea I want to get into if we can.”
But Lynch didn’t get the opportunity.
He had another crisis to deal with, namely, the Branch Davidians’ anxiousness about helicopters flying over their compound 10 miles east of Waco. Authorities told Lynch that some of the helicopters belonged to news organizations such as WFAA-TV Channel 8 of Dallas.
“They’re liable to shoot their ass down,” Lynch said.
“Well, we warned them,” the negotiator said. “It’s supposed to be a restricted area, but there was one out there earlier.”
Martin, though, assumed that the helicopters belonged to the Texas National Guard—which had three helicopters participating in the raid.
“Don’t assume that, Wayne,” Lynch said.
Lynch warned Martin about the news helicopters over Mount Carmel and the CareFlights taking wounded ATF agents to Waco hospitals. That prompted Martin to ask authorities to set up a connection between the news media and the cult.
But Lynch deflected Martin’s efforts.
“Lynch, we want to talk to the media,” Martin said.
“Let me establish their safety and the safety of anyone else in the area,” said Lynch, who got on the phone to the DPS negotiator.
“They want to talk to the media now,” Lynch said.
“I don’t know if we can do that right now,” the negotiator said.
“Wayne, there’s no media around right now,” Lynch said. “They’re all in the choppers. There’s no one on the ground that I know of. They’re just starting to get word out, starting to come to the scene. We’re keeping them back for the time being. Later on in the day, as this thing progresses, we’ll sit down and figure out something to do there.”
“I don’t think so,” Martin said. “We’d rather talk to the media right away. We don’t feel secure unless we can tell our side of the story.”