Friday, April 19, 2013

Children could have been saved 'If they never came'

The Helen Marie Taylor Museum of Waco History

Waco – It's all so simple, thought Helen Marie Taylor, as she sat an listened to a government agent brag about his performance as a hostage negotiator.

At a Baylor Seminar on the Branch Davidian raid, standoff, and massacre, an FBI  negotiator said with pride that he saved some of the children during the 1993 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound.

He persuaded David Koresh to allow them to leave, he claimed.

He could have saved them all, if they (the FBI) had just left,” Ms. Taylor decided. A big part of the story had been left untold.

In the city most identified with a tragic loss of the lives of 4 ATF agents and 6 Davidians on Feb. 28, the day of the raid, and an additional 76 men, women and children on April 19, 1993, the day the Mt. Carmel compound burned to the ground in a matter of a few minutes following a tank assault directed by the FBI, no public event was planned to commemorate the event. 

It didn't happen in Waco, the reasoning goes, an item often repeated during the debacle that lasted 51 days.

So Ms. Taylor decided to allow the Davidians and the public to hold just such an event at the Museum of Waco History, located at 701 Jefferson, though the tragedy occurred at the Elk community, near Bellmead.

It's a Waco thing, she reasoned.

Clive Doyle looked back 20 years and recalled the day his daughter lost her life in the fire, the day he escaped with his life and began serving time for offenses with which he was charged, and later wound up serving time in prison.

They could have saved everyone – including the children – he concluded - if the government agents had never come to serve the warrant to begin with.

It's a warrant the Davidians never saw on the day of the raid, he recalled. "Some guy in the helicopter had it..."

In an interview, he declared that Mr. Koresh invited members of the ATF squad investigating allegations of illegal weapons manufacturing to come see his inventory of rifles and parts – not once, but twice.

A former member of the Davidian sect who was embroiled in a domestic dispute over child custody, informed the government that Mr. Koresh had parts from both AR-15 lower receivers, a semi-automatic weapon, and from fully automatic M-16 rifles. They used that information to develop an affidavit of probable cause that alleged he was combining the parts to manufacture fully automatic weapons, for which he had no permits.

When the ATF agents arrived, clad in riot gear, armored vests, and carrying assault weapons, they shot the dogs first, then proceeded to shoot up the building, blowing holes in the water tanks, walls and windows.

Mr. Doyle also recalled the fact that the crime scene evidence was bulldozed and trucked away, key items such as the front doors of the compound shredded, and disposed of.

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