Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officers attempt to serve an 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 16 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.
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 to 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 the CFA and Don Stewart.” CFA stands for Constitution Foundational Association.
ATF agents raid a gun shop in South Carolina believed to be connected to the cult leader.
Thursday, March 11
Cult spokesman Steve Schneider says three want to give up. They do not come out.
ATF agents announce they are looking for cultist Paul Fatta, who has been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess unregistered firearms.
Agents speak with Howell from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. This, they say, is the first contact they have had with Howell since Tuesday.
Friday, March 12
Cultist Kathy Schroeder comes out of the compound. She is the wife of a cult member killed Feb. 28, and mother of four children released earlier in the week.
ATF spokesman confirms that during the LaVerne, Calif. Raid on a house owned by Howell, agents found a videotape of cult members preaching violence.
ATF agents say the investigation continues into who leaked word of the raid to cultists. Also, they say they saw no media trucks at Mount Carmel the day of the raid, contrary to previous statements.
FBI spokesman answer critics who say attorneys for the cultists should be let in, by saying no one will be allowed into the compound.