Memorial Service Marks 20th Anniversary Of Branch Davidian Fire

A small memorial service was planned Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of the fiery end of the 51-day standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidians outside of Waco.


WACO (April 19, 2013)—Some of the survivors of the fiery end to the 51-day standoff at the Branch Davidians compound gathered Friday at a Waco museum for a memorial service to mark the 20th anniversary of the deadly fire outside of Waco.

As many as 80 died in the fire, including women and children.

One survivor read the names of the dead Friday morning.

The standoff at Mount Carmel started on Feb. 28, 1993 after Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents launched a massive raid on the compound in a rural area near Elk.

The raid left four agents and six Davidians dead.

The shootout stunned the ATF, and the FBI moved quickly to take over operations.

The bureau remained in charge during the 51-day standoff that captured the attention of the world.

At one point, there were as many as a thousand media representatives assembled along a rural McLennan County Farm to Market Road in an area that became known as Satellite City.

Analysts later said the intense media scrutiny of the government's handling of the standoff may have contributed to the FBI’s decision to use tear gas in an attempt to break the impasse.

FBI agents in armored vehicles pumped tear gas into the compound in an assault that began early in the morning on April 19, 1993.

Just after noon, fingers of flame began to shoot from one end of the compound.

A strong wind fanned the flames, which quickly engulfed the poorly constructed wood frame building.

Officials later admitted that pyrotechnic teargas devices were also used in the assault, but the government maintains the Davidians set the fire themselves.

(Read The Justice Department Review Of The FBI’s Handling Of The Standoff)

Critics, however, include the producers of an Academy Award-nominated Documentary, 'Waco:the Rules of Engagement," challenged the official account.

(More On The Documentary)

Eleven surviving Branch Davidians were later tried in federal court in the deaths of the four ATF agents who died in the raid.

All were acquitted of murder, but four were convicted of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.

04/19/93 Chronology

5:50 a.m.: Agents call Davidian compound to warn they are going to begin tank activity and advise residents "to take cover", agents say the Davidian who answered the phone doesn't reply, but instead throws phone and phone line of front door

6 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record a man inside the compound saying "everybody wake up, let's start to pray,” then, "Pablo have you poured it yet" "huh" "have you poured it yet" "in the hallway" "things are poured, right?"

6:04 a.m.: Armored vehicle with ram and delivery device to pump tear gas into compound with pressurized air rips into front wall just left of front door leaving hole 8 feet high, 10 feet wide. Agents say holes not only allow insertion of gas, but also provide means of escape. Agents say 75 rounds are fired from inside compound.

6:10 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record "don't pour it all out, we might need some later..." "Throw the tear gas back out....” FBI negotiator Byron Sage is recording saying it’s time for people to come out. Surveillance tape records a man saying "what,” then, "no way.”

6:12 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record Davidians saying "they're gonna kill us,” then "they don't want to kill us."

7:23 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record Davidian saying, "The fuel has to go all around to get started." Then a second man says, "Well, there are two cans here, if that's poured soon."

8 a.m.: Armored vehicle with battering ram rips into second floor of compound and then minutes later another hole is punched into backside of compound. Vehicles then withdraw.

9 a.m.: New banner appears: "We want our phone fixed.”

9:13 a.m.: Armored vehicle powers through front door to deliver more gas

9:16 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record conversation between men identified as Davidian leader David Koresh and his lieutenant, Steve Schneider. Koresh: "They got two cans of Coleman fuel down there? Huh?" Schneider: "Empty" Koresh: "All of it?" Schneider: "Nothing left."

10 a.m.: Man seen waving white flag on southeast side. Advised over speakers if he is surrendering to come out. He doesn't.

Approx 10 a.m.: man believed to be Schneider comes out to retrieve phone and phone line

11:30 a.m.: More gas inserted through front, punching another big hole

11:40 a.m.: Surveillance tapes record a man saying "i want a fire around the back,” then later, "let's keep that fire going."

11:43 a.m.: Another insertion, moving well into building to reach the concrete interior room where its believed Davidians are trying to avoid gas

12:03 p.m.: Turret knocks away first floor corner on right side

12:08 pm: Flames appear in two spots in the front of the building, first on the left of the front door on the second floor (a wisp of smoke then a tentative flicker of wind fanned flame) then a short time later on the far right side of the front of the building. Also at a third spot on the back-side. Agents say cult members ignited fires. Say that observers saw man dressed in black bend over with cupped hands and then saw flames as he lifted his hands.

12:10 p.m. Flames spread quickly fanned by high winds. Building not well constructed, burns very quickly.

12:12 p.m.: 911 call placed for fire department. Two Waco trucks are dispatched. Shortly after Bellmead dispatches pumper and grass truck.

12:22-23 p.m.: Waco fire trucks arrive at checkpoint, Bellmead follows shortly.

12:25 p.m.: Large explosion on left side. One object hurtles into air, bounces off top of white bus and lands on grass

12:30 p.m.: Part of roof collapses (during this time there are several explosions that appear to be gasoline or kerosene caches rather than ordinance), witnesses report that live ammunition is popping throughout the compound because of fire

12:32 p.m.: Flag rope breaks, flag flutters for a minute, then breaks away and drifts into flames

12:43 p.m.: Fire trucks arrive in compound according to fire department logs.

12:55 p.m: Fire begins to burn out, compound leveled.

3:45 p.m.: Law enforcement source says David Koresh is dead

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