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The Waco Shootout

Introduction

The Waco attacks or rather what is famously referred to as the Waco shooting is a historical incident that took place in Texas; a state in the United States of America from 28th of February to the 4th day of April 1993. The Waco shooting historically dates back to the above dates, when a conflict ensued between the branch Davidian (under the leadership of David Koresh) and the federal bureau of alcohol, firearms and explosives that took place in Waco Texas leading to cold blood killing of approximately seventy six people 26 of whom were children (Newport & Kenneth, 2006:9).

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The fact that the fifty one days’ standoff occurred in the month of April fosters its popularity to a very great extent since this month has been popularly branded as the bloody month in the history of the United States of America. This is due to fact that very many other deathly events have taken place during this month.

Among the other unfavorable incidences that took place in the month of April and which created an indelible mark in the American books of history includes, the Oklahoma city bombing of April 1995 in which Alfred P Murrah building was bombed killing approximately 168 people and injuring more than 800 others, the April 20 1999 columbine school shooting incident in which two crazy students trailed the students and teachers killing twelve fellow students and a teacher before taking away their own life, the infamous April 16 2007, VA tech massacre in which deranged lunatics killed two students in the wee hours of the morning and then proceeded to the VA tech campus where they killed thirty students and badly wounded close to the same number of students among other mind tormenting incidences all of which occurred in the month of April.

In addition, incidences such as the American revolution of 1775, the American civil war of 1861, the American genocide of 1914, the Bosnia war of 1992 as well as the assassination of president Abraham Lincoln in 1865 all occurred in the month of April, a factor that renders even the quagmire behind the Waco shooting of 1963 rather inexplicable (John, 2000: 13). This paper therefore gives a comprehensive report of the Waco shooting in Texas in 1993.

The History of the Waco Shooting

The Waco shooting incidences started on the 28th of February the year 1993 when the United States bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms (AFT) attempted to conduct a search demand at the branch Davidian located at mount camel, a Davidians’ property that lie approximately 14 kilometers an equivalent of nine miles north east of Waco Texas. This incidence lead to an unanticipated exchange of fire or rather shooting between the conflict parties leading to the killing of four agents of the bureau and six followers of David Koresh. This culminated subsequent bloody attacks by the federal bureau of investigations lasting for a month and twenty one days (51 days cordon) and which lasted until April 19th 1993 when an unprecedented fire gutted down the Davidian branch compound (Newport &Kenneth, 2006: 11).

The latter indicated that in the whole hullabaloo, approximately seventy six people lost their lives 24 of whom were British nationals, over twenty children and two pregnant women. In addition, Vernon Wayne Howell alias David Koresh, the leader of the Davidian branch also died in the fire.

The Chronology of Events (The Genesis of Waco Shootings)

Although the raid on the Davidian branch actually kicked of on the 28th day of February 1993, the whole scenario had started as early as mid 1992, when the United States bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearm was sensitized about the ills that were going on at the Davidian branch (Newport & Kenneth, 2006:9).

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On may 1992 for instance, Daniel Weinberg (the chief deputy of McLennan county sheriff department) informed the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms that his office had received information from the local UPS representatives notifying them that a driver package had broken open while on delivery to the Davidian branch residence, revealing that it contained firearms inert grenade casing and black powder (USDOJ, 1993). According to Newport & Kenneth (2006:9), these discoveries drew the attention of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, investigations were opened and the issue classified and treated as sensitive thus requiring special attention.

Consequently, AFT investigations on the branch Davidian (whose end culminated to the shootings and burning of the branch Davidian) began as early as June 1992, carrying out a close watch from a house across the road from the compound of the branch Davidian and their curiosity and suspicion continued being heightened by the reports of automatic gun fires that were often coming from the Davidian branch compound (USDOJ, 1993: 7).

However, the latter reported that this close watch did not yield much. Investigations were therefore taken a step higher, which involved ATF’s undercover agent (Robert Rodriquez) being sent to the compound. The agent unearthed the fact that the compound had more than 150 arms and well over eight thousand rounds of ammunition.

Although reports indicated that some of the arms at the branch Davidian had some legal backing, the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms alleged that Koresh and his team had in fact modified some fire arms beyond the legal semi automatics in a way that purportedly breached the federal laws (Theodore & David, 1993: 17). AFT therefore prepared an affidavit to warrant the raid on the branch Davidian and successfully sought its approval from the US federal courts that formed the basis of the warrant and which the AFT were to be used in raiding Koresh’s premises.

Claiming that the Davidians had in fact flouted the federal laws of the land, US magistrate ruling had thus granted the alcohol bureau the right to search and arrest David Koresh together with his followers and charge them with illegal weapons handling; mainly because of the many they had accumulated over the years. In addition, AFT lied to the FT hood Texas that the Davidians also operated Meth lab which provided sensitive drugs nexus essential for obtaining military assets under the war of drugs, in an attempt to obtain specialized training in preparation for the raid; which they also succeeded (Theodore & David, 1993: 18).

Having achieved a great level of success in preparation, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms set the date of the Davidian raid which they referred to as the Showtime as the 1st day of march 1993. However, the bureau later announced that the show time had been brought forward by a day to 28th February 1993 since the raid warrant indicated that it was only varied up to 10. 00 AM on the 28th day of February 1993 thus it would have expired if the raid was to be executive on the following day. On the morning of Sunday, 28th September1993 AFT attempted to execute the search warrant on the Davidian branch (Theodore & David, 1993: 17).

However, information about the raid had already reached the Davidians since a reporter who had some information on the planned operation unknowingly asked information on the direction to the branch from a United States portal services mail carrier, who coincidentally happened to be Koresh brother in-law. It is rather obvious therefore that it is the latter who informed the Davidians that AFT agents were about to raid them (USDOJ, 1993).

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Consequently, Koresh made it known to the AFT undercover agent, Robert Rodriquez that the Davidians were well aware of what they were planning. It is then reported by the Davidian survivors, (USDOJ, 1993:2) that David Koresh after getting acquainted of the planned raid by the AFT agent, ordered specific male followers to start preparing by fully arming themselves and placing themselves in strategic defensive positions.

On the other hand, women and children were alerted to remain indoors. Despite having full knowledge that their plan had been unearthed by the Davidians, the commander of AFT directed that they had to proceed with the raid irrespective of the earlier plan of getting the Davidians off guard. The AFT agent thus proceeded to execute their raid. At 900 am, the AFT agent proceeded to the branch Davidian. David Koresh appeared on the door unarmed wanting to know what the raiders were upto. Before the latter’s question was answered, gun shots were heard and at this point, he retreated and closed the door.

It was not clearly established who started the shooting but each party later pointed a finger at the other claiming that each started it all (USDOJ, 1993:3) Reports indicated that the gunshots first took place at the double entry door. The blame game continued with the AFT agents claiming that they first heard the gunshot from the compound. The branch Davidian survivors on the other hand claimed that the AFT agents were the first to start firing from outside the compound. What USDOJ (1993) referred to as Unsubstantiated reports also pointed out that the gun fire was first executed by AFT “dog team” that intended to counteract the dog in the branch Davidian. It is after this first gunshot (which both sides refused to own up) that the bloody Waco shootings of Texas started (Theodore & David, 1993: 18).

Irrespective of the earlier appeal by both the resident and the Davidian Wayne Martin, an assistant profession of the North Carolina school of law to stop, the shooting and killings continued. It was until the AFT agents fell short of ammunition and retreated that the sheriff of the local county managed to bargain a stoppage to the shooting after making several attempt during the shoot outs. Conversely, this achievement lasted for only nine hours before the shootings erupted again. Before the ceasefire, however, four AFT agents were killed and sixteen others badly wounded although survivors indicated that some AFT agent’s death resulted from fellow agents (Theodore & David, 1993: 18).

Five Davidian followers also died in the 9.45 am raid. Nearly six hours after the 11.30 am shootout stoppage, AFT agents shot killing instantly Michael Schroeder, another Davidian follower claiming that the deceased had attempted to shoot the agents with a pistol as they tried to re enter the branch Davidian compound (USDOJ, 1993:3). This reignited the attacks and as the shooting and raids continued, AFT agents were replaced by federal FBI agencies after fears that the Davidians might be tempted to commit mass suicide having realized that they were likely to be overwhelmed.

This lead to mass attacks on the Davidian compound and which is perhaps the cause of the fire that broke up on April 19th 1993 at the branch Davidian, forcing the federal FBI agencies to flee together with other survivors. This fire terminated the infamous Waco shootings. Unfortunately, the leader of the notorious leader of the branch Davidian also died in the infernal.

Other Accusations against David Koresh (Davidian cult)

Apart from the allegations of holding illegal firearms, David Koresh had a score of other accusations that the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms had raised against him. According to Theodore & David (1993: 22), David Koresh had also been accused of sexually abusing women as well as scores of other sexual misconducts all of which compounded to the bureaus’ need to raid the Davidian compound.

His follower had also released a film in which the accused, David Koresh had stated that he had been given the go ahead by the messiah to have children with the women within the Davidian territories so as to come up with what he referred to as the “house of David”. To achieve this, Davidian couples were reportedly dissolved and only David Koresh was allowed to have sexual relations with the women (Theodore & David, 1993: 18).

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Another film revealed that Koresh had sexually abused and fathered children with several underage girls thus he had a total of fourteen children who reside with him in the branch Davidian compound. Further, in an interview between David Koresh and the Australian television station it was revealed that Koresh had sex with and impregnated an aged woman who is allegedly the wife of the late founder of the branch Davidiansm.

The Consequences of Waco Shootings

The aftermath and the consequences of the Waco shooting which started from a single gunshot from an unknown source were extensive. Apart from the death and injuries sustained by the AFT agents and the Davidian followers, the shooting culminated in killing of children, and women who were residents in the branch Davidian. Individuals who succeeded to flee the compound were either killed, arrested and either charged as material witnesses (Theodore & David, 1993: 18).

Conclusion

The Waco shooting is a historical shooting that took place in Waco Texas between the bureau of alcohol, tobacco firearms agents and the follower of branch Davidian under the leadership of infamous David Koresh. Historically, the Waco shootings started on the 28th of February and lasted until 19th of April when a fire from unknown source burnt down the branch Davidian at mount camel. According to the survivor of the shooting (Theodore and David, 1993: 18)., the Waco siege of 1993 started when the united states bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms attempted to carry out a search on the branch Davidian after having been suspected that David Koresh and his followers involved themselves in illegal handling of firearms in an attempt to execute a search warrant granted by the federal court magistrate effecting the search and arrest of David Koresh (the leader of b ranch Davidian and his followers for flouting the federal laws).

Among other allegations that ensued the federal government suspicion, that all was not well at the branch Davidian, is the accusations that were constantly being leveled against David Koresh that he was involved in sexual molestation of women and children as well as general misconduct. Among the consequences of the Waco shooting was the death of approximately seventy six people 26 of whom were children. Although the attacks lasted for fifty one days, this objective was not achieved since the raids were on 29th April 1993 cut short by an ensuing fire that erupted and gutted down the branch Davidian. The fire also killed David Koresh, the leader of the sect.

List of References

Newport, C. and Kenneth, G., (2006). The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect, pp 294-301 Oxford University Press,. Web.

Nick, Davies. (1995). The aftermath of Waco: changes in federal law enforcement. Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress.

John, C. Danforth., (2000). Final report to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the 1993 confrontation at the Mt. Carmel Complex, Waco Texas” by, special counsel. Issued.

Robert, Bryce. (2000). “Prying Open the Case of the Missing Door. The Austin Chronicle. Web.

Theodore, H. Fiddleman., and David, B. Kopel., (1993). “ATF’s basis for the assault on Waco is shot full of holes – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms fatal attack on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas. Web.

USDOJ, (1993). Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas”.

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