Botched up

I know they said “illegal weapons.” But did they intend to eliminate a small cult because of an illegal weapon?

As far as I know, there was no immediate danger to society. If they are going to clamp down on illegal weapons, why don’t they get some of these other cults across our country, too? There are probably one or two in about every state in the union.

Where are our personal civil rights and freedom of religion? Was the underlying cause of this attack David Koresh’s belief system? Do we not have a right to own our own belief system?

I think that the ATF should be demoted, and demoted plumb out of existence. I haven’t seen its agents do anything that someone else could not have done better.

What is the matter with our local sheriff’s office in handling matters like in this Branch Davidian compound? A precinct constable could have served a summons on Koresh to appear.

Or if they had evidence, Koresh could have been arrested in a pool hall or in a dance hall. Then, if matters got out of control, call in the FBI. But it seems that both the ATF and the FBI botched on this one.

Gene Lewis


Using tear gas

David Koresh was building a large amount of weapons that no normal person has a need for. IF he had gone into a bank and ended up with hostages would any local police department wait for 51 days before taking action?

Tear gas is a tool that is accepted by most people as a means to force people to stop their actions and give up. Too often we vent our feelings on the government because it is there and is the easy way out. Yes, I know there are times our government has lied to the public, but this is not one of those times.

I support U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in her decision to use tear gas in an attempt to end the standoff in a non-violent way. No one could have known that David Koresh would have carried out his fiery threats.

We all feel a deep sadness for the children who perished in the fire, but no one in the government could change the mind of David Koresh and the manner in which he chose to end the standoff.

Robert Steuer


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.