In the beginning, The Mount Carmel Center, sat peacefully on a tract of land, 13 miles west of Waco, Texas. It was a religious haven for Seventh-day Adventists who called for a reform in the Seventh-day Church. They called themselves The Branch Davidians.
In 1981, a young man named Vernon Howell, later known as David Koresh came to Mt. Carmel. Knowing every Psalm and Revelation, Koresh soon became a model cleric.
In 1991, however, the Beauro of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) began investigating Mt. Carmel due to growing concerns over the Branch Davidian Sect stockpiling illegal weapons. The ATF believed the community had nearly 250 weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, revolvers, pistols and hundreds of grenades, records show.
On February 28, 1993, ATF agents entered the Mt. Carmel property ready to arrest leader David Koresh and raid the Davidians complex. This initiated a bloody raid at the Mt. Carmel Center, leading to the largest gunfight on American soil since the civil war.
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The initial shootout left four agents and six Branch Davidians dead. But this failed operation quickly turned into something out of a nightmare, resulting in a 51-day standoff; leaving four agents and 76 people dead, including 25 children.
The official Waco Siege story
On the morning of February 28th, 1993, The Branch Davidians were woken by the sound of the morning bell. It was time for prayer. Beginning to usher their way into what seemed to be an average day, Davidians began to hear helicopters flying overhead, two cattle trailers then entered the 375-acre property, which was eventually swarming with ATF agents.
Officially, the ATF executed the assault due to suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons. As stated in an affidavit signed by agent Davey Aguilera, the ATF had multiple confessions; one obtained from former Branch Davidian, Marc Breault, who claimed that Koresh had “M16 lower receiver parts.”
Admittedly, the ATF had planned a silent daytime attack, but any possibility of a surprise was lost when a KWTX-TV reporter, who had been tipped off about the raid, asked for directions to a US Postal Service carrier, David Michael Jones, who was coincidentally Koreshs’ brother-in-law. According to the official story, Jones being asked for directions is what led to the Davidian members being fully armed and prepared that day.
Upon the ATF’s entering of the property and failure to execute the search warrant, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated. After Koresh failed to agree upon leaving Mt. Carmel, FBI head, Jeff Jamar, was brought in to lead the operation, replacing the ATF. Eventually, under the direction of then-Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI launched a tear gas attack on April 19, 1993, in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the centre.
Shortly thereafter, the Mt. Carmel Center became a vicious inferno. The fire resulted in the deaths of 76 people, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Koresh.
Although the official reason for the raid on Mt. Carmel was to search for illegal weapons and to arrest David Koresh, plotholes began to show over the months and years after the Waco siege, leaving many people to question the official narrative.
Deaths of Davidands Twisted by media
The final bullets of September 28th were fired at around 7 pm. Mike Schroeder, a Branch Davidian, had left the centre that morning to go to work in town. He learned about the raid on the radio. Knowing that his wife, Kathy Schroeder and their four-year-old son were inside Mt. Carmel, he along with fellow Davidians Bob Kendrick and Norman Allison decided to head back.
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While attempting to dash across the property, he was spotted by special agent Daryl Dyer, who had an outpost set up in a hay barn just off the property. After walking up to the fence that surrounded the Davidian sector, Schroeder was shot seven times; once through the eye, another through the heart, and five bullets in the back, according to his official autopsy report.
Once in custody, Bob Kendrick told the ATF that Schroeder had been killed. Yet, his body was left to lie on the property, with his family failing to be notified until five days after his death.
Waco Siege psychological methods
During the 51-day standoff, the media were reporting that the Branch Davidians were blasting various sounds and music through massive speakers. However, according to many accounts in the San Antonio Federal Trial, and Waco survivor, David Thibodeau, it was the FBI who actually placed the speakers on the property.
Thibodeau tells in a C-SPAN session that their plan was to make the Davidians even more “unstable.” Under the direction of the FBI, the ATF installed massive speakers and light fixtures onto the property in an attempt to create a psychologically unstable environment– if it wasn’t enough already.
“The first song they played was from a 1970s Alice Cooper album. Me and some of the younger guys weren’t complaining,” Thibodeau said. “We started calling up for requests. But they weren’t too happy about that, and that’s when they started to change their tone. They started playing the sounds of rabbits being slaughtered.”
During the San Antonio Federal Waco trials of 1995, Jack B. Zimmermann, a former prosecutor and criminal trial judge, testified in the Federal Court hearing with regards to the ATFs’ militaristic behaviour that “They were playing all sorts of noises, like rabbits being slaughtered, and Nancy Sinatra.”
Adding, “The point was that they were trying to create disturbance. They were trying to take somebody that they viewed to be unstable to start with, and then they were trying to drive him crazy.”
The many fabricated lies of David Koresh
During the 51 days, not once were the media allowed within close proximity of the attack itself. This meant that any information received by the media came directly from federal agents.
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As a result, the media emitted pejorative labels that conveyed stereotypes that, in return, prevented an impartial investigation. There were claims made in the media that Koresh believed he was the living Christ. However, these claims originated from a 1991 interview with ABC Australia, a statement made sarcastically by Koresh. But in the eyes of the media, Koresh was nothing more than a religious fanatic.
The “Cult” pejorative is perhaps the most interesting, as it partially corresponds to the child abuse allegations made against Koresh. Branch Davidian, Mark Breault was expelled for attempting to take over leadership from Koresh in 1989. Noting that he then moved to Australia. Vowing revenge, Breault contacted several international agencies and groups, making false allegations against Koresh of adulterous sex, child abuse and gun crimes. One of these groups was “The Cult Awareness Network.”
The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) actively urged the press and law enforcement to act against any non-mainstream religious, psychological or even political movement which it describes as a “cult.” While allegations such as child abuse might be credible enough for the average witness, coming from disgruntled ex-members involved with professional or amateur cult busters, the ATF failed to look at the Cult Awareness sources with a critical eye.
Something not mentioned by the media is that Koresh was investigated twice for child abuse, but both investigations turned up stale. After Breaults’ allegations were made, local authorities began an investigation of the child abuse charges. Officials of the Child Protective Services division of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, and the McLennan County sheriff’s office, visited Mt. Carmel in February and March 1992.
The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services offered the following summary of its nine-week investigation at Mt. Carmel:
“None of the allegations could be verified. The children denied being abused in any way by any adults in the compound. They denied any knowledge of other children being abused. The adults consistently denied participation in or knowledge of any abuse to children. Examinations of the children produced no indication of current or previous injuries.”
Also being reported was the story of David Koreshes’ vision regarding the Waco siege itself. According to multiple Branch Davidians, David Koresh had indeed spoken for years of an “apocalypse” that would storm Mt. Carmel. As Thibodeau stated in his C-SPAN conference:
“His vision of government agents storming the Mount Carmel Center, was something he perceived as prophetic. To Koresh, the bible was panoramic. Meaning he could see it happening right before his eyes.”
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Although the ATF had ensured the Branch Davidians were waiting for them on September 28th, this was actually related to Koresh inviting the ATF to inspect his weapons in 1992. On July 30, 1992, ATF investigators, Davy Aguilera and Jim Skinner visited Davidian business associate Henry McMahon to inquire about Koresh’s gun purchases. Agents began asking McMahon questions about Koresh. McMahon immediately called Koresh to inform him.
According to McMahons’ testimony in the Federal Waco Trials, Koresh said “If there’s a problem, tell them to come out here. If they want to see my guns, they’re more than welcome.” McMahon went on to say that he looked at the agent, and told him Koresh was on the phone, but the agent quietly insisted that they couldn’t speak.
The questionable Waco siege search warrant and other plotholes
The official search warrant affidavit leading to the 51-day Waco siege was written by ATF agent, Davey Aguilera on February 25 1993. That same day, the warrant was signed by the only magistrate in Waco, Judge Denis Green.
According to David Koresh’s attorney Dick DeGuerin, the February 25th affidavit contained “stale information” and was written under “false pretences.” DeGuerin claimed that Agent Aguilera used information dating back more than 6 months to obtain the search warrant – which violated the law of executing a search warrant.
Agent Aguilera included information regarding an altercation between the Branch Davidians, and former Mt. Carmel leader, George Roden, five years prior to the Waco siege. According to reports, in November 1987, the two were involved in an armed altercation. Roden, resentful of Koresh’s power over the Davidians, had challenged Koresh, saying that whoever could resurrect the dead was the true leader.
In Roden’s attempt to prove Koresh was a fraud, he dug up the body of a woman named Ana Hughes and waited for Koresh to prove his leadership by resurrecting the dead. After calling the police and being told he needed evidence, Koresh and seven followers stormed what was Rodens’ Mt. Carmel.
They stealthily entered the compound, allegedly to obtain a photograph, however, they did not bring a camera. They found Roden crouched behind a tree with a submachine gun, and a gun battle ensued for several minutes. Roden fled the property with wounds to his hand and chest, and the altercation was ruled out as a property dispute by authorities.
Concerning a number of misrepresentations, the affidavit also describes child abuse allegations, along with the Texas Department of Protection and Regulatory Services investigation, but does not mention that the case was closed on April 30, 1992, with no evidence of child abuse. Nonetheless, the ATF has no authority to investigate child abuse or polygamy.
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Furthermore, in Texas, it is only legal to own a machine gun if the owner pays a $200 tax on the gun. But there was no evidence the Branch Davidians owned any machine gun at all. Through the confession of Mark Breault, Agent Aguilera falsely claimed in the warrant that Koresh was also stockpiling lower receivers to create fully automatic AK-47s. However, the problem with this, unlike an M16, an AK-47 is known as a “solid-body” firearm, with a one-piece receiver.
Ownership of a machine gun in the United States is legal, but the owner must pay a federal tax and file a registration form with the ATF. The legal cause for the ATF investigation of Koresh was not machine guns per se, but ownership or manufacturing of machine guns without registration and taxation.
Although the Davidians had all of the legal paperwork necessary, and the ATF found no evidence of illegally purchased weapons, the raid on February 28, 1993, was launched based on biased, stale, inaccurate, and misleading information, influenced by illegitimate sources. To add further scepticism to the event, even the Treasury report itself notes, “the planners failed to consider how prior relations with Koresh might have affected the reliability of his statements.”
Did the ATF shoot through the roof?
During the early stages of the raid, an independent investigative reporter named Ron Cole, who was interviewed for the film, “Waco: The Big Lie,” arrived at a contrary conclusion using a scale model of Mt. Carmel.
“It seems to me that shots were fired from agents at the front [of Mt. Carmel] and from the helicopters within seconds of each other. Which means there would not have been enough time for someone inside the compound to fire the first shot that would have initiated simultaneous fire from the ground and from the air within seconds of each other.”
The instance of Winston Blake’s death backs this claim. Winston Blake was one of the first Davidians killed. Blake was found dead with a singular bullet hole, entering directly through the top of his head. As Thibodeau stated on the C-SPAN sitting, “I personally saw those bullets everywhere on the roof. They had to have come from the sky. There was literally sheetrock hanging off the roof. It was absolutely shot from above the building.”
He then continues, “Even if we had 45 minutes to lay and wait for Federal authorities to turn up, I’ve gotta tell you, unless we were all blind, not one of them would have walked out of that cattle trailer. It simply was not a part of the plan because there was no plan. We had no idea they were coming that day.”
The ATF claimed profusely that it was an ambush, rather than an attack because they were outgunned. However, according to ATF spokesman, Ted Royster, the raid on Mt. Carmel had been planned and rehearsed during the months leading up to the raid.
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Who started the Waco siege fire?
For unknown reasons, on April 19th, the last day of the 51-day Waco siege, the back of the Mt. Carmel building was announced as off-limits to both the media and the public.
According to the infrared videotape that is featured on “Waco, the Rules of Engagement,” several gunshots went off at the back of the building near the water tanks. Edward Allard, a former Army night-vision lab supervisor who holds the patent on the infrared video technology, highlights in the documentary what he called automatic weapon fire. The automatic fire was directed at a single exit door from the concrete storage room in the compound where Koresh directed the women and the children to go during the raid.
Allard expresses this in the 1997 documentary, “nothing in nature makes a thermal signature like that. It is absolutely the signature of fully automatic weapons being fired.”
Officially, the Waco fire was an “independent” investigation headed by Paul C. Gray, Assistant Chief of the Houston Fire Department. Noting that Grey had ties to the ATF, leading many to believe it was a cover-up. The report lists as “contributory factors” to the fire’s spread: poor construction, highly combustible stored products such as baled hay, large quantities of paper, and other flammables, strong wind, and “breaching operations.”
The report also admits “the FBI removed several large sections of the building’s exterior walls. These openings are contributory to the fire’s spread.” However, it asserts that the fresh air the openings let in– while fanning the flames, would have also lowered the concentration of carbon monoxide, increasing the amount of time a person might have survived if trapped inside.”
This weak apology for the breaching operation’s contribution to spreading the fire admits that people may have been trapped inside, but still failed to be saved.
Who was the Waco siege aggressor?
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was originally established to collect taxes for the US Treasury Department. However, what transpired during Waco proved to the world that any institution given power can make mistakes. Or worse – deliberately orchestrate a cover-up.
The standoff at Mt. Carmel was a surreal struggle between good and evil. Rather than executing a legal search warrant, the Federal Government used unnecessarily aggressive force against the Branch Davidians and attempted to publicise their suffering throughout the course of 51 days.
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The United States of America had never seen anything like the Waco Siege prior to September 28th, and although the Federal Government may swear by the defence for its people, 51 days were spent inflicting more suffering and pain than defence or protection.