Monday’s development

  • Their patience with the Branch Davidians apparently wearing thin, the FBI has launched a series of tough, psychological warfare-type measures aimed at a quick end to the standoff.
  • In late afternoon, television pictures show two people leaving the cult’s compound. They return about an hour later. No explanation is given.
  • Cult expert Rick Ross, who has deprogrammed Branch Davidians from the Waco compound, says there is reason to believe that Howell, also known as David Koresh, is “bending under the pressure.”
  • U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. denies attorneys’ access to Howell and his top deputy, Steve Schneider, after motions requesting access are filed by lawyers who are hired by family members. Smith says the cult members will not have any legal rights while they remain in the compound.

TV film gets early start

As a television crew began converting an Oklahoma boys ranch into a replica of a cult compound in Texas, Sandy Miller wondered Monday if Hollywood knows something the government doesn’t.

How does the standoff between Branch Davidian leader Vernon Howell and federal agents end?

“I hope he’s not holed up watching the movie when it comes out,” Miller said from the Bethesda Boys Ranch 20 miles south of Tulsa, scene of a soon-to-be released movie about the fatal raid on the cult’s compound near Waco.

The standoff began on Feb. 28 when four Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents and two cult members were killed during the raid.

That’s also when the movie ends.

“Our story is how we got to that point. That’s our movie,” said Ken Kaufman, of Patchett Kaufman Entertainment in Los Angeles, an independent producer filming the movie for NBC.

The movie will be the sixth in a series called In the Line of Duty. Previous movies include the FBI Murders, Manhunt in the Dakotas and Cop for the Killing.

“NBC has in place a mechanism for law enforcement stories about lawmen who have died,” Kaufman said. “The movies are marked on both sides of the fence — the good guys, the law enforcement officers, and the bad guys. We have research going on all the time and we have a good working relationship with law enforcement people all over the U.S.”

The movie will focus on Howell’s past run-ins with the law, the colony of Branch Davidians he took over in 1987 and the ATF’s plan to raid the compound for a weapons search.

Kaufman said plans for the movie were under way within days of the siege. The shootout will be filed in April, but no release date has been scheduled.

A postscript can be added to the movie if one is available by then.

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.