Week One

Feb. 28-March 6

  • 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.
  • About 110 cult members hole up inside the compound. One cultist is arrested.
  • Names of dead ATF officers are released.
  • FBI officials take control of the operation.
  • Howell allows 21 children and two women to leave the compound.

Week two

March 7-13

  • ATF officers raid a local machine shop suspected as a front operation where Howell followers purchased weaponry.
  • The state 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 in South Dakota.
  • Two cult women are released from jail on bond.
  • 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 the injured cultists.
  • ATF agents announce they are looking for cultist Paul Fatta, who has been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess unregistered firearms.
  • Cultists Kathy Schroeder and Oliver Gyarfus come out of the compound.

Week three

Sunday, March 14

  • Federal agents turn bright lights on the Branch Davidian compound in what a government spokesman calls a tactical maneuver.
  • Occupants of the compound hang out a sheet that says “FBI Broke Negotiations We Want Press.”
  • A federal spokesman says more members of the cult are expressing interest in what legal consequences they might face if they come out.
  • The spokesman says Vernon Howell is angered by reports a relative, reportedly his mother, accepted $75,000 for movie rights to the story.

Monday, March 15

  • FBI spokesman Richard Swensen says officers now are trying to avoid getting into lengthy religious discussions with Branch Davidians.

Tuesday, March 16

  • FBI spokesman said cult Wayne Martin and Steve Schneider stepped out of the compound for an hour-long, face-to-face meeting with FBI officials Monday night.

Wednesday, March 17

  • FBI agents say as many as 30 of the remaining 105 cultists inside the compound may be ready to leave.

Thursday, March 18

  • FBI agents say Howell is once again taking a more active role in negotiations. Cultist Steve Schneider has been handling much of recent negotiations. Feds say Howell’s return is a setback.
  • Agents say government psychologists believe cultists are not afraid of a firefight.
  • A former-Ku Klux Klan leader is arrested trying to crash the daily press conference at the Waco Convention Center.
  • Both sides use loudspeakers to communicate during negotiations.

Friday, March 19

  • Two male cultists leave the compound around 8:30 p.m.
  • Agents say talks seem optimistic for the first time in weeks.
  • Agents deliver a package to cultists. In it are audio tapes, letters from attorneys for the cultists, and several magazines with articles about Howell.
  • FBI indicates Howell may have received his sign from the heavens, in the way of a celestial sighting.
  • A former right-hand man to Howell, Marc Breaut, says he thinks Howell is just stalling for time.

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.