WACO — Response by the public nationwide has been gratifying and terrifying, sympathetic and just pathetic.

In the eight days since the world came to know of Vernon Howell and his Branch Davidian sect, local, state and federal agencies in Waco and throughout the nation have been inundated with response from the public.

Most, local officials say, is well-meaning though with a few bizarre twists.

Take, for example, the man who called the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Antonio Friday.

“He said he was Jesus Christ for three days and said he knew what Vernon Howell was going through so he could help in the negotiations,” said an employee there.

The ATF office in Houston received a call Monday from an electrician who offered to travel to the fortified Branch Davidian compound to cut off its electricity, said an ATF spokeswoman.

“We’ve gotten people saying I know exactly what he’s going through so I can help,” said Waco Police Sgt. Malissa Sims. “Some have even traveled into town and say ‘If you let me help, I can end this.’ ”

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.