Saturday’s developments:

  • Federal authorities say they still are trying to determine if the departure of two key cult members from the Branch Davidian compound is a “signal of some sort.”
  • Agents said the women who left the complex Friday, Kathy Schroeder, was allowed to see her 3-year-old son and reported back to cult leader Vernon Howell.
  • Several of the injured cult members should be hospitalized, officials said. Judy Schneider, who was shot in the hand during the Feb. 28 raid, may be developing gangrene, they say.

Movie set in Oklahoma

GLENPOOL, Okla. — Move crews are expected to arrive at a northeastern Oklahoma boys ranch Monday to start putting up a set for a television move on the siege of the Branch Davidians.

Mary Nell Clark of the Oklahoma Film Office said the NBC crews were interested in filming in Oklahoma because of the similarity in landscape to Waco, where Branch Davidians are at a standoff with federal agents.

Filming is start at the end of April, said Brian Miller, business manager of the Bethesda Boys Ranch.

ATF chief defends raid

A federal agent who is supervising a command center near the Branch Davidian compound says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be vindicated for its raid on the site.

Evidence in the compound can be reconstructed to show the need for the raid, said Richard Cook, an agent in charge of the Kansas City Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

He was sent to Texas as part of a peer-support program after the Feb. 28 raid and is now one of three supervising agents at the agency’s command center.

Cook made his comments in a telephone interview Friday with the Kansas City Star.

He said the raid on the Branch Davidians’ compound, in which four agents were killed and 16 were wounded, was planned by Vietnam War veterans with experience in such operations.

The raid was justified, Cook said, because the Davidians possessed an arsenal of illegal explosives and machine gun parts that allowed the ATF to obtain the original search warrant.

“What we were looking for (illegal weapons) was in fact there,” he said. “Our agents took machine gun fire, and there were explosive devices used against our agents in that gun battle. Agents took fragments from those things. The search is going to prove in court that we were there legally.”

Ex-Klan leader barred

Police barred a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan from participating in news briefings after he asked federal agents Saturday whether the standoff with the Branch Davidian sect signaled the emergence of a police state.

Louis Ray Beam Jr., who was one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives, later complained that reporters are not asking tough questions of the law officers involved in the standoff, which begins its third week Sunday.

“The people in this country are upset with the media because they’re not asking what really matters here,” said Beam, who said he was affiliated with a California-based Christian magazine called “Jubilee.”

At the briefing, Beam said the tactics of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms “as something very similar to those used both in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.”

“As you known there is much talk in the country about that,” Beam said to ATF associate director Don Conroy. “Are we seeing the emergence of a police state in the United States?”

“I won’t even address answering that question,” Conroy replied.

After the briefing, Waco police Sgt. Malissa Sims asked for his identification and told Beam we would be allowed to return.

Prayers for peace

Waco ministers, hoping to use spiritual means to break the impasse at the Mount Carmel complex, will join together for a “Service of Unity” at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 11st Street and Austin Avenue.

Donations for officers’ families

A group of 18 Waco ministers has organized a fund to help the families of four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents killed in the Feb. 28 raid on Mount Carmel. Contributions may be sent to the Waco Interfaith Memorial Fund, First Waco National Bank, P.O. Box 7813, Waco 76714-7813.

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.