My name is Ryan and I am an agorist. Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of the slaughter of the Branch Davidians in Waco by the federal government. My buddy Cam, host of the Make Liberty Great Again podcast and co-founder of the MLGA Network recently wrote and recorded a three-part mini-series on those fateful events and I thought that it was too good not to share myself. This is Part Two: Operation Showtime. Strap in, because this is going to hurt.
It was a normal day at Mt. Carmel. The sun had yet to rise and few were awake. Paul Fatta and his son, Kalani, were awake and milling around, preparing for their trip to Austin that day.
David Koresh and others began their day like they would any other. Breakfast was made, children played and fought, and the dogs barked outside.
Koresh and the others wished Paul and Kalani well and hoped that their sales at the gun show would go well as they closed up the UHaul and began their journey.
As the Davidian morning rituals continued, the front door swung open loudly and someone rushed in.
Koresh’s brother-in-law, David Jones, stood before him, winded and heart-racing.
He told Koresh what the newsman had told him. That the ATF was coming. That they were on their way to Mt. Carmel.
Koresh wasn’t shocked. He knew this day would come. He knew that this apostate power would eventually come against him. He had prepared for this moment.
And now, Babylon was at his front door.
Welcome to the Red Pill of the Week, I’m Cam Harless from Make Liberty Great Again and today we are continuing the story of David Koresh and the time the ATF hastily served a warrant with bullets and helicopters, causing the longest shoot-out in American law enforcement history.
In 1992, the ATF was on its last leg. The ATF was an independent bureau within the Department of the Treasury. Having just gone through the PR nightmare that was the entrapment, stand-off, and the murders that happened on Ruby Ridge just months earlier, their funding was coming into question.
There was talk when Clinton assumed office of taking the ATF, cutting its funding, moving it out of the Treasury Department, and making it a little brother agency to the FBI.
If this happened, there were a lot of higher-ups that would lose their jobs. They needed a win. They needed to counter the bad reputation they earned when they, along with the FBI, butchered Vicki Weaver as she held her infant daughter. They needed an easy takedown and some solid PR to keep the status quo and retain their jobs as the state’s masked thugs.
With the echoes of Ruby Ridge and Jonestown in the atmosphere, they decided on their boogeyman. They knew that it would play well to the cameras and give them the public backing that they needed.
News was, there was a mad man in Waco. There were rumors of statutory rape, stockpiling guns for an “Army of God,” and rampant child abuse.
As you know from the previous episode, these charges were investigated and no evidence was found that proved impropriety. But, that didn’t matter to the ATF. This was an easy one. They had a boogeyman, they had plenty of armed agents, and they had the perfect story to justify a quick and simple raid that would prove the worth of the ATF to the American people. They could be heroes again. Heroes that enforced the morals of American society and retaliated against strange people like they felt they should have in the case of Jim Jones.
This was supposed to be an easy win.
Seeing how poorly things had gone on Ruby Ridge, the ATF wanted to be prepared. They amassed their agents at Fort Hood 63 miles from Waco and began their dress rehearsals for the raid. They were kind enough to let the US Army pay for part of their training for this event.
Of course, they had to have a good excuse as to why they should be able to use the Army’s land and medical resources to prepare for this siege in Waco. So, they let the Army think that this was an anti-drug raid rather than a raid to grab a “stockpile” of “illegal weapons.” The ATF claimed that Koresh was possibly operating a methamphetamine lab, to establish a drug nexus and obtain military assets under the War on Drugs.
The only problem is that there was never any evidence whatsoever that David Koresh or any of the other Branch Davidians did drugs, and there was even less evidence that they were manufacturing or trafficking drugs. In fact, Koresh had explicitly invited the police department into Mt. Carmel to get rid of a meth lab that was left there by previous tenants when they moved back to the complex.
But, that didn’t matter to the ATF. They had their mission and their narrative and they used it to their advantage.
The investigation into Koresh and the Davidians allegedly began when someone heard what they thought was automatic weapon fire on the premises of Mt. Carmel.
It didn’t matter that Koresh and his followers were in the legal business of selling guns. It didn’t matter that they had gone through the proper channels and made sure they were licensed. It definitely didn’t matter that any law or regulation on a civilian’s right to bear arms is a direct violation of the second amendment of the constitution and a violation of intrinsic human rights.
The only thing that mattered to the ATF was that a UPS driver had contacted them and told them that one of the packages he had delivered had opened to reveal firearms, inert grenade casings, and black powder. It only mattered that a former Branch Davidian and detractor had claimed that Koresh had M16 lower receiver parts and that a neighbor claimed that he heard automatic gun fire.
The ATF had their target.
On July 30 of 1992, ATF agents Aguilera and Skinner visited the Branch Davidians’ gun dealer Henry McMahon, who tried to get them to talk with Koresh on the phone. Koresh offered to let the ATF inspect the Branch Davidians’ weapons and paperwork and asked to speak with Aguilera, but Aguilera declined.
Robert Sanders, a retired ATF Deputy Director claimed that if he had been active and in a position to do so, he would have taken up that offer and checked the weapons to ensure that they were operating within the confines of the law.
But they didn’t. Sanders stated explicitly that it appeared that the ATF had planned the raid for publicity purposes rather than for so-called justice.
When the ATF went to a judge for their warrant, they didn’t bring just a charge of “stockpiling weapons” or the claim that the Davidians had illegal, fully-automatic weapons or accessories that could be added to semi-automatic weapons to convert them to automatic.
Although many believed that statutory rape and other sexual offenses occured in Mt. Carmel, the ATF has no jurisdiction over these crimes. Yet, it was used as justification in the warrant. In fact, 2/3rds of the warrant was about alleged sexual crimes.
There were several avenues that the ATF could have explored if they were seeking what they call justice. They could have checked the guns as was previously offered. They could have picked him up while he was jogging. They could have had the sheriff, who Koresh knew personally, go up to the front door and knock. They could have walked through the front door and peacefully administered the unjust laws that they live to enforce.
Eight or nine months before the raid, the group had been told by other neighbors that law-enforcement officials were asking to put recording devices on their property to determine if the group was firing illegal automatic weapons. The Davidians went to the Sheriff’s office and asked why they were trying to plant listening devices rather than coming over and looking at the guns as they had offered.
The ATF never gave them that courtesy. It never even seemed to occur to them. The Sheriff did not understand this and argued that they should have notified the Davidians of the warrant and tried to execute it peacefully. He also asked why he hadn’t been informed of the raid.
Instead of going to the Sheriff, the leader of the ATF’s PR team called the media and told them that something was going to be happening at Mt. Carmel that they might want to be there for.
To the corporate press, this was exciting, just the day before, on February 27, 1993, the Waco Tribune-Herald began publishing “The Sinful Messiah”, a series of articles that demonized Koresh. This was a juicy story that couldn’t be missed.
On February 28th, 1993, news vans and cameras sat just outside of the Mt. Carmel Center. They showed up 30 minutes before the ATF had planned their raid. They were set up and ready to broadcast the fireworks to an audience of millions.
Hours before, Paul Fatta, the member who ran the gun sales for the Davidians, and his son had left the complex to head to a gun show in Austin, Texas. He had taken 90% of the guns that were at Mt. Carmel with him. Leaving a smaller amount for defense. The majority of the “stockpile,” which should have been called “inventory” left that morning with Paul and his son.
Around 45 minutes before the siege, one of the reporters that had been tipped off about the raid asked a postman for directions to Mt. Carmel. This mail carrier happened to be Koresh’s brother-in-law, who promptly let the Davidians know that trouble was on its way.
The ATF had implanted an agent, Robert Rodriguez, next door to Koresh and the Davidians. Their cover was noticeably poor. They presented themselves as “college students,” but were in their 30s, had new, expensive cars, were not registered at the local schools, and did not keep a schedule that would have fit any legitimate employment or classes. The Davidians referred to their house as “the undercover house.” Rodriguez spent some time with Koresh and said that he had even considered joining the Branch Davidians after getting to know David over time.
The morning of the raid, Koresh told Rodriguez that he knew that a raid was imminent. Rodriguez contacted his superiors and told them that the Davidians knew they were coming and that the raid ought to be called off. His recommendation was ignored.
He was asked what the Davidians were doing when he had found out that his cover was blown and made his exit. “They were praying,” he said.
As helicopters began encircling the complex, the Davidians prayed. Koresh, seeing cameras and hearing helicopter blades, watched cattle trailers come up the road. He told the women and children to take cover in their rooms. He called a few choice men to move to the front of the building in defensive positions. He told them he would try to speak to the agents, and what happened next would depend on the agents’ intentions.
As the cattle trailers, filled with a hundred strong horde of armed and armored men, pulled up to the complex and took position, aiming their weapons at the front door, Koresh went to the door and opened it.
“What’s going on?” asked Koresh.
The agents pointed their weapons at him and yelled to lay down, that they had a warrant.
Koresh, seeing guns aimed at his face, closed the door.
If you ask the ATF, Koresh had decided to ambush them in that moment. He had drawn them close to the front door so that men with heavy weaponry could shoot the cops through the door and murder them.
If you ask the survivors, the ones who were in the compound, they say that the first gunshots didn’t come from inside.
There was a subset of the siege team that the ATF had sent to shoot the dogs.
The ATF maintains that they didn’t shoot the dogs before they started shooting their own automatic weapons at the front door. They also claim that there were no accidental discharges or any other notable mistakes.
But, the dogs were shot early on and bullets started flying. It would be understandable in some sense if an on-edge agent had started shooting when he heard an accidental discharge or mistook the shooting of the dogs as fire coming from behind the door.
But, there were cameras on the ground. The ATF was collecting video the entire time. They had three cameras to catch these moments. So, we know what happened, right?
No. Those cameras and the footage were lost. There is absolutely no record remaining despite the ATF having three cameras on site to catch it.
But, the ATF keeps records. There would be pages from the surveillance log that could sort out who shot first, right?
No. Those were lost as well.
But, that’s not even the last piece of evidence that could be used to determine who took the first shots. There was the front door that was shot through. That should be able to tell more about what happened and which bullet holes were created first.
But, again, no. The door itself was taken into evidence and then eventually lost before being analyzed.
I believe this is what we might call a “pattern.”
They shot and killed the dogs first, but behind that door, David Koresh was shot in the hand and through the stomach and his father-in-law, Perry Jones, was shot and killed.
Within a minute of the beginning of the siege, Branch Davidian, Wayne Martin, called emergency services from inside of Mt. Carmel. “Here they come again,” he yelled. “That’s them shooting! That’s not us!”
“There are women and children in here,” a voice yelled from inside Mt. Carmel.
The law is clear in these cases. Even an arrest by lawfully constituted officers can be resisted if the officers use excessive force.
The ATF shot at a house filled with women and children with automatic weapons to execute a warrant to take away automatic weapons.
This was an unreasonable search done in an unreasonable manner with excessive force.
So, when the Davidians shot back to protect themselves and their babies, it was absolutely justifiable per the law.
Thus began the longest shootout between civilians and state agents in US history. For two hours, gunshots were exchanged between the Branch Davidians and the ATF.
All the while, the Branch Davidians called emergency services and begged for the raid to be called off.
The dispatchers tried to get the communications from inside of Mt. Carmel to the ATF.
The ATF said that they couldn’t communicate with 911 or get the calls asking them to call off the shooting. But, the PR team was nearby with many fax machines and computers to make sure that they could collect what they needed for this project.
Helicopters flew around the Mt. Carmel, creating a diversion. They drew fire from the Branch Davidians and were eventually grounded by the ATF.
The agents grabbed ladders and set them against the side of the building, shooting into windows indiscriminately as they climbed the ladders and entered the building through windows on the roof.
They tried to get into Koresh’s room to find this supposed stack of automatic weapons that they were attempting to prove the existence of.
They threw flashbangs into windows and continued shooting at any window and any movement they could see.
After 45 minutes, the agents began running out of ammo and the shooting slowed, although it didn’t stop for two hours.
During this time, 4 ATF agents were killed and 16 were wounded.
The ATF stopped shooting the moment that they ran out of bullets. The Branch Davidians had not run out and it didn’t seem that they would any time soon.
When the ATF ran out of ammo and said that they would leave the property, the Davidians promptly stopped shooting. They didn’t have to. They let the ATF retreat and they let them evacuate their dead and wounded without incident.
Throughout this incident, six Davidians died.
Perry Jones was killed at the front door.
Jaydean Wendel was gunned down in her room.
Winston Blake and Peter Hipsman were also killed in the fray.
17-year-old Peter Gent was in the silo cleaning rust when the shooting began. When he heard the shooting, he went to the top of the silo. Video shows a helicopter flying by. Peter fell shortly thereafter, dying of a gunshot wound that looked to have come from the helicopter.
Despite being allowed to evacuate their own dead, the ATF did not let them retrieve Peter’s body from the top of the silo.
Once the shooting was over and the ATF had pulled back, ATF agents established communications with Koresh and others inside the complex and negotiations began.
While on a recorded line, Jim Cavanaugh, one of the negotiators, said that there were no guns on the helicopters that day. He was speaking to a member of the church when Koresh overheard this.
“You’re a damn liar, Jim,” said Koresh.
Koresh called him out and Cavanaugh held his ground for a short time while Koresh recounted the gunfire coming from the helicopters and the death of Peter Gent.
“You’re a damn liar,” repeated Koresh.
Then, the double speak began and the goalposts moved.
“What I’m saying is that those helicopters didn’t have mounted guns. OK?” Cavanaugh lied. Video shows that the helicopters had mounted guns.
“I’m not disputing the fact that there might have been fire from the helicopters,” Cavanaugh continued. “If you say there was fire from the helicopters and you were there that’s ok with me. What I’m telling you is there was no mounted guns, ya know, outside mounted guns on those helicopters.”
Koresh agreed with this faulty assessment, appeased.
After this tragedy, not a single agent made a report on the day of the raid, which is highly unusual. But, the ATF initiated a shooting review. Their attorney promptly told them to stop the review because they were creating Brady material.
Brady material is another term for exculpatory evidence, evidence that could prove the accused innocent.
During the night, three Branch Davidians fled and tried to get away from the violence that had engulfed Mt. Carmel.
Michael Schroeder, one of the men who tried to escape, was shot dead. 11 agents fired on him after he “raised a pistol.” He had 7 bullet wounds. His body stayed there for 5 days. After the agents walked off with the other escapees i n cuffs, they heard two more shots.
At the end of the day, there were 6dead Branch Davidians, 4 dead ATF agents, and many wounded. All over a warrant that could have been executed peacefully. Over some guns and gun parts that Koresh had offered to let the ATF come into Mt. Carmel to check alongside all of the paperwork.
It was a repeat of what happened on Ruby Ridge, a woman shot while holding her baby and all.
The ATF knew how to do one thing well, and that was to screw everything up just to have the FBI come in to clean up their mess.
And, as before, the FBI did come in. With the death of the agents, charges were filed against every adult Branch Davidian in Waco, both in and outside of Mt. Carmel that morning.
And, just as before, when the FBI came in to clean up the ATF’s mess, they, too, would only make things worse.
Thus, in the hands of the FBI, a 51 day standoff began and a soon to be recurring nightmare was being planted into the minds of the American public.
And that’s where we’ll pick up on Part Three of the Waco massacre in the next Red Pill of the Week.
There’s your red pill. Don’t take the whole bottle.
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