Waco: Branch Davidian memorial service draws about 100
About 100 surviving Branch Davidians and supporters gathered Thursday at the Helen Marie Taylor Museum in downtown Waco for a three-hour service marking the 25th anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the 51-day standoff at Mt. Carmel that started after the Feb. 28, 1993 shootout that left four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians dead.
One by one, the names were read out of the 86 people who died after the compound burst into flames as federal agents pumped tear gas into the building on April 19, 1993.
"Don't let them fade from you, go back to those times when you can gain power and strength from those things," said Dr. Philip Arnold, a religious consultant who offered his help to the FBI during negotiations, but whose assistance was refused.
Sheila Martin lost her husband and four of her children in the fire,
"We still feel such a pain because of what has happened. The fact that they died, as they say the names and they say they died but you're remembering a horrible fire and that they could not get out,” she said.
David Thibodeau was one of nine Branch Davidians who escaped from the burning building, but he lost his wife in the fire.
"The thing that bothers me the most is that you're still saying publicly, A&E and some other documentaries, that it was a mass suicide and people killed themselves. That's simply not true, this was a mass homicide,” he said.
He later wrote a book that served as the basis for a miniseries on the standoff that aired on the Paramount network.
Clive Doyle, perhaps the most visible of the surviving Branch Davidians during the 25th anniversary year, said the outcome could have been different.
"All they had to do was hand the warrant through the door and things would have ended peacefully, but we all know how it ended."