Friday’s developments

  • Vernon Howell tells negotiators that he has no interest in suicide. “He indicates there is no intent on his part to order a suicide, nor does he contemplate suicide,” said FBI agent Bob Ricks, adding that negotiations went “smoothly.”
  • Another child — the sister of the last two children released — comes out of the compound Friday morning.
  • Authorities send a videotape and individual photographs of the 21 children who have been released so far to the compound to reassure cult members that their children are being treated well.
  • Authorities also send in medical supplies at the request of cult leader Vernon Howell, who said he needed to patch a wound to his wrist.
  • Southwestern Bell begins setting up permanent phone services, including a microwave telephone service and a switching station for law enforcement authorities and the media.
  • Gunfire is reported by a television reporter late Friday in the area of Old Mexia Road.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms public information officer Sharon Wheeler said agents in the field had no reports of gunfire.

Food donations sought

McLennan County Commissioner Ray Meadows is organizing donors to contribute prepared and canned foods to feed the more than 600 law enforcement officials on duty during the prolonged standoff at Mount Carmel.

“I just feel like our law enforcement people need to know the county residents are behind them,” Meadows said. “I think this is an excellent opportunity to show them that we care and appreciate what they are doing out there, even if it is just with food.”

Anyone interested in donating food may take it to the WACO-FM radio station at 314 W. Loop 340 between 5 and 5:30 p.m. today and beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday.

He suggests donation of meat loaf or roast beef dishes, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans, pies, cakes or cobblers.

The food will be added to donations from members of the Waco Restaurant Association and served to the officers Sunday, Meadows said.

Cash donations to buy food also will be accepted, he said.

$1 million boost

John Fletcher, a member of the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the influx of people in hotels, restaurants and shops had unexpectedly pumped in more than $1 million to Waco’s economy in just one week. But he said he wished the windfall had happened for a different reason.

“The people of Dallas got a reputation and they had nothing to do with the John F. Kennedy assassination,” Fletcher said. “People are asking now is Waco going to get known for religious fanatics.”

TSTC to continue classes

Texas State Technical College will continue classes next week, whether or not the Mount Carmel standoff has been resolved, school officials said.

TSTC students have been on break since Feb. 25.

A new quarter begins with new student orientation Sunday and registration Monday. Classes start Tuesday.

No right to self-defense

State law allowing people to defend themselves wouldn’t apply to those firing on law officers carrying out their duty, says the lawyer for the Texas district and County Attorneys Association.

“Obviously, any kind of action that you take to defend your house or property has to be justified by law,” said Rob Kepple, general counsel for the association.

FBI agent Bob Ricks said Friday that cult leader Vernon Howell has tended to justify what happened Sunday by saying he was responding to an attack on his residence.

Kepple said, “Generally, you have no right to self-defense if police officers are legally exercising their rights under an arrest warrant or a search warrant.”

Yellow, black ribbons

Radio station WACO-FM is distributing yellow and black ribbons to listeners who want a silent way to commemorate the tragedy.

“The yellow ribbon is for a peaceful resolve of this situation, and the black ribbon is to signify our sympathy and mourning for the people who lost their children,” said John Blake, general manager of the station.

The station also is collecting teddy bears for the children who left the camp.

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.