Week one

Sunday, Feb. 28

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officers attempt to serve and arrest warrant on Branch Davidian cult leader Vernon Howell, as well as a search warrant for illegal weapons, but are repelled by heavy firepower. Four agents and two cult members are killed, while 15 agents and three cultists are injured.
  • Negotiations begin as about 110 cult members holed up inside the compound refuse to leave.

Monday, March 1

  • Names of dead ATF officers are released.
  • FBI officials take control of the operation.
  • Howell allows 10 children to leave the compound.

Tuesday, March 2

  • Howell says he and his followers will surrender if electronic media broadcast a prerecorded message. Though the message is aired, cultists do not come out. Instead, they release two women and seven more children.

Wednesday, March 3

  • Howell says he broke his promise to surrender because God told him to wait. Cultists also reveal their numbers: 20 children, 47 women, 43 men. Cultists release another child.

Thursday, March 4

  • Cultists release two more children.

Friday, March 5

  • Another child is released.

Saturday, March 6

  • Government negotiators use their daily press briefing to make a direct plea to the cultists for their surrender.

Week two

Sunday, March 7

  • Cultists announce a 6-year-old girl wants to leave the compound. Later, they say she changed her mind.
  • Howell, government agents say, is becoming more difficult to deal with.

Monday, March 8

  • Howell declares he has been preparing for a confrontation since 1985.
  • Government agents say they have spoken directly to numerous cultists. All stand behind Howell.
  • FBI trades its Bradley M2 infantry vehicles for Abrams M1 tanks after Howell threatens to fire on them.
  • ATF officers raid a machine shop suspected as a front operation where Howell followers purchased guns and explosives.

Tuesday, March 9

  • 19th State District Court Judge Bill Logue orders all but three of the 21 children released from the compound to remain in temporary state custody. Three children are released to their father, an Air Force sergeant from South Dakota.
  • Two cult women are released from jail on bond, while a third member continues to be held on attempted murder and firearms violations charges.
  • McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell becomes the first non-federal negotiator.
  • Cultists unfurl a banner that reads, “God help us. We want the press,” apparently in response to a Dallas radio station.

Wednesday, March 10

  • ATF agents arrest Woodrow Kendrick in Waco and charge him with attempted murder of a federal agent, because of alleged involvement in the Feb. 28 firefight.
  • FBI agents identify two of the dead cultists and release names of injured cultists.
  • Cultists hang a new banner from their compound. It reads, “Send in CFA and Don Stewart.” CFA stands for Constitution Foundational Association.
  • ATF agents raid a gunshop in South Carolina believed to be connected to the cult leader.

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.