David Koresh and the Waco Davidians: An Ultimate Act of Faith?

March 2002
By Mark Swett

Topics in this Article:

Who was David Koresh?

The guy is inspired either of God or of Satan. There's no in-between. 1

What does one say about a person who claims that he comes from God 2 and that he was shown the mysteries of the Bible with a snap of the fingers from seven angelic beings in Jerusalem in 1985- who claims to see the Biblical prophecies unfolding in a whole panoramic view and in Technicolor - who says that he hears God talking to him in an audible voice - and who claims that he has the last message of salvation for our generation?

David Koresh has been portrayed as the Sinful Messiah, a guitar strumming, beer swigging, womanizing, Biblical know-it-all, and a sexual deviant who used his authority to satisfy physical lust and also to control a handful of people in Waco, Texas.  If he was the promised Messiah who the scriptures spoke of for the last days, as he taught that he was, he is surely not what any expected, have been taught to believe, or are willing to accept.

There are many within Christianity who have likewise made claims as to their role and mission for God, sometimes elevating themselves above the religious crowd with their visions and by their statements.  Turn on some religious broadcasting stations today and you will hear them say that God speaks to them, and directs them and their ministries.  In fact, such statements are almost the norm among some people and their followers and the only distinction that one can make is a question of degree.

David Koresh was a unique individual who, without the benefit of any formal Biblical or academic training other than what he learned for the Seventh-day Adventist church that he had once attended, and also from Lois Roden with whom he studied with at Mt. Carmel Center in Waco, Texas, had the ability to not only memorize large portions of the Bible, but was also be able to teach and explain many of the deep scriptures that most found confusing, or knew very little about. Although at first those at Mt. Carmel Center did not take him seriously, it was not long before he began to speak with the kind of knowledge that caused others to take a second look at him.   Audio recordings of his teachings from 1983 show a young man very laid back and far from a good orator. But all that would change, almost in an instant, while he was in Jerusalem in 1985 where he claimed he was given a direct revelation about the Seven Seals, and along with that revelation of knowledge also came the authority and ability to be able to teach it.

To his students Koresh was a man of contradictions.  He was loved as well feared, funny as well as serious, and carnal as well as spiritual.  He could be part of the crowd taking part in activities, but also act as an anointed prophet holed up in his room listing to and communicating with God. He directed what his students ate and when. He would strictly enforce the dietary rules as well as break them in a moment if he was so moved. After all, that is what a living prophet could do.

The mystery of the seven seals of the book of Revelation has been the subject of interpretation by scholars and theologians throughout the centuries, but for the most part they have not played a large part in forming Christian theology let alone in the salvation of the believer. It was David Koresh who brought the seven seals to the light of day in our generation, in a dramatic and public way, causing many worldwide to blow the dust off their Bibles to search the book of Revelation to see just what he was talking about.

Koresh's life revolved around the seals. He would make any effort and grab at every opportunity to communicate the seals to whoever would take the time to listen to him, whether it was in person, or on the telephone.  And time was never his adversary. He was always open to questions about his message and he made it a point never to force others to accept what he taught. On the contrary, his usual procedure for newcomers hearing the message was to encourage them to go back home to contemplate what he had taught them, and he also encouraged them to ask questions of their ministers, pastors, or rabbis.

For some David Koresh is a cult hero, a benign religious prophet holed up inside Mt. Carmel thumbing his nose at the American government Goliath exercising both his constitutional and religious freedom. And for a few Koresh and Waco have become a cottage industry - a tool to achieve notoriety and some financial gain through films, tapes, and media specials, and in some cases the Waco information being presented is error-perpetuating error. Had it not been for the actions of the BATF on February 28, 1993 the world would never have heard the name of David Koresh, a name that some have come to hate, and despise, while others not only hold it in reverence and honor, but also take it as part of their own.

To cover all the points of the Waco standoff is beyond the scope of this paper. I am under no allusions that what is presented here will cause some to alter their opinions of the events in Waco, nor is that my intent. It is my hope that the material presented here will motivate those who are interested, no matter their views, to step beyond the rhetoric, and to examine all the evidence that they can from both sides. For some it will be an impossibility and that is a given, but others who have not yet been conditioned by the Waco rhetoric are encouraged to weigh the evidence and thoughts not only from this paper, but also to make an independent examination of all the evidence and to try and to arrive at a personal conclusion based upon an unbiased evaluation of as much evidence as can be studied and obtained.

The best way to understand what really happened at Waco and why is to see the events in stereo. You must see the standoff from both sides from the law enforcement perspective as well as from the Branch Davidians.  The former will be most difficult for many. It is also important to have an appreciation and grasp of Koresh's apocalyptic theology for that is the real key to Waco.  Everything else is secondary and springs from that.

In this paper I will reveal some of David Koresh's own words and statements from his recorded Bible studies, negotiation tapes and the FBI bug tapes that will help you to understand his Biblical mindset during the standoff.

That being the case it is necessary to set aside the myriad of his teachings that were both positive and that dealt with other areas of the Bible. The responsibility for communicating a complete and balanced work of David's eight years of teachings is left for another yet to come.

The Branch Davidians were a deeply spiritual community brought together by a unique message and messenger. Unlike many in some religious circles, the students of the seven seals lived and practiced their faith twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. They were not a fly-by-night group who were brainwashed by a charismatic leader. They were indeed serious Bible students who in their estimation were taught deep Biblical mysteries from God's anointed in these last days. According to the Branch Davidians that I have spoken with David Koresh had the ability to take strands of fiber from the Old Testament prophecies and weave them into a seamless pattern that opened up the Seven Seals. David did not teach the seals to his students, rather he showed them the seven seals from the Book.

Did David Koresh believe that he was Jesus Christ?

David Koresh did not believe that he was Jesus Christ of Nazareth reincarnated from two thousand years ago. He did believe that the same spirit of God that embodied Jesus - the same spirit that embodied the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures was the same spirit that resided in him, but in a special way. Koresh taught that all the prophecies of the Bible spoke about the one person to come (Koresh or Cyrus) at the end of time. He also appropriated all those titles to himself. From Isaiah he was Cyrus (Koresh), the bird, The Arm of the Lord, and the Suffering Servant. From Zechariah he was the young man who goes to measure Jerusalem. In Revelation he was the angel from the east, the final messenger from God - the Lamb of God - the only one who could open up the sealed book. He also referred to himself as Christ (not Jesus of Nazareth but an anointed one from God) and during one dialogue with the FBI negotiators he referred to himself as the Son of God.

Although we could go into some other Biblical titles that David Koresh applied to himself it shall be sufficient for reader to keep in mind when reading his words that the title the Lamb encompasses nearly all of the prophetic titles applied to the one who was to come.

From February 28, 1993 and throughout the fifty days to follow there were two themes that consistently flowed in the minds of the Branch Davidians.  One was the injustice perpetrated upon those at Mt. Carmel at the hands of the federal law enforcement authorities, and second how they saw and reacted to those events in light of the prophecies and teachings of Koresh. The latter is what carried the most weight during the negotiations and private conversations recorded inside of Mt. Carmel

Koresh saw Babylon represented everywhere - the Seventh-day Adventist Church (whose ministers he had once called his greatest enemies), anyone outside the Seven Seals message, and specifically the godless governments of the world - which included the United States government with its federal law enforcement agencies. Babylon was simple and at the same time complex.  When Koresh spoke with the negotiators he was not just speaking with law enforcement personnel, but those blind to God, heathen, the ungodly - representatives of Babylon  - albeit Babylon itself.  That belief was stumbling block to the Davidians and a handicap for the negotiators.

Regardless of the questions raised by some about the legality and pretenses of the search and arrest warrants the BATF attempted to serve on February 28, 1993 their actions were not aimed at intentionally killing or maiming anyone inside Mt. Carmel although that possibility was understood as a potential result of their actions. The BATF chose to not arrest David Koresh off the Mt. Carmel property, but rather opted to use a dynamic entry into a building full of men, women, children, and elderly. And more - they continued with implementing the raid on Mt. Carmel after the element of surprise had been lost without even notifying the agents who were taking part in the action.

They also claimed that their agents were ambushed by the Branch Davidians on February 28th, but the recording devices that were the very evidence that would have proved the truthfulness of their statements supposedly malfunctioned leaving behind no video proof of their operation and only a handful of still photographs and some media footage to go by. The evidence of who fired the first shot that day will never be known for sure and researchers are left with conflicting testimony from both the BATF and the Branch Davidians.

The FBI inherited a mess and a tragic situation. Four federal law enforcement agents of the BATF had been killed and many wounded along with four Branch Davidians killed inside of Mt. Carmel with several others wounded including a serious injury to David Koresh.  All of this was because the BATF opted to continue with a dynamic entry inside Mt. Carmel after the element of surprise had been lost.

A dynamic entry on the part of law enforcement agencies has three critical components: the element of surprise, superior force, and violence of action that consists of a positive entry and an immediate control of the subject location.  If one of those factors is lost there is no dynamic entry. 

Many have made the statement (including myself) that David Koresh should have and could have been arrested outside of Mt. Carmel, but the truth of the matter is such an action would have been putting the cart before the horse.  The arrest warrant would have been binding if in fact the ATF had found illegal weapons on the premises.

Also, the U.S. Attorney's Office (AUSA Bill Johnston) had directed the BATF to conduct the search prior to arresting Koresh. 

The FBI had been brought in over fifty negotiators who participated directly in the negotiation efforts at Waco.  Every single one of them was committed to do the best job that they could to try to get the Branch Davidians out, without anyone else being injured, or killed. And there were many other support personnel who worked behind the scenes to support them in that effort.

Throughout the standoff the FBI negotiators earnestly tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the situation while the federal commanders chose to take a hard line approach by cutting off the Davidians ability to communicate with the media, balking about sending in milk to the babies inside the building, shutting off the power, playing distracting sounds over loudspeakers, and bathing Mt. Carmel in bright lights during the evening.

The evidence strongly supports the belief that David Koresh and some of the Branch Davidians inside Mt. Carmel were directly responsible for the fire on April 19th that destroyed the building and claimed the lives of every man, woman, and child who were not fortunate enough to escape the inferno. It is also clear that regardless of their intentions the FBI and the federal government as whole contributed to the events of the standoff that culminated in the fire on April 19, 1993. In essence there was dual culpability on both sides with multiple missed opportunities to resolve the standoff peacefully.

David Koresh's Predisposition to Violence

David Koresh had a predisposition to a violent apocalyptic end to his life, and also for those who were his faithful students in the present truth as he taught it.  It was not death for the sake of death, but death for the sake of eternal life and the fulfillment of prophecy that he found it in the prophetic writings throughout the Bible especially the Hebrew prophets as well as the New Testament Book of Revelation. The key - the stepping-stone - to eternal life with its glorious rewards for all was to be found in the Seven Seals.

For Koresh present truth was the evolution, or progressive revelation in a more clear and detailed form from God already written in the Bible that was communicated to people in a specific generation from a specially chosen messenger.  He would often cite people like Martin Luther, John Wesly, and John Knox as messengers for their day each bringing forth a controversial message for the people of their time - messages though unknown at the time now accepted as the norm in some religious circles.

With David Koresh's background in the Seventh-day Adventist church the most recent authority of present truth was the prophetess Ellen G. White, but she had been dead for over eighty years and the church had been left without a living prophet. And without a living prophet - a living voice - the church would grow stagnant. Any organization without a living testimony is a church of confusion. 3   Did not God say in Amos 3:7 that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth it unto his servants the prophets?"

Koresh's quest to find a living prophet led him to Lois I. Roden at Mt. Carmel Center outside of Waco, Texas.  There he found a rich heritage leading from Ellen G. White to Victor Houteff whose massive Shepherd's Rod Series was an important part of the Branch Davidian foundation. Lois Roden took David under her wing and it was not long before he began, with her blessing and in a small way, to teach and later exercise authority over the group.

Koresh's Jerusalem Experience

In 1985 David Koresh visited Jerusalem - a visit that changed his life forever.  It was at that time that he said the he received the complete revelation of the Seven Seals message.  The story is interesting and is best to be left in his words as recorded by the FBI negotiators.

Koresh: and so there's only one acid test for anybody that claims to be enlightened in regards to the knowledge of God - show me the seals - and if they can't then they have to wait until somebody can.

FBI: David? How did you get the point where you can interpret the seals?

Koresh: Well - in 1985 I was in Israel. And ah - there was ah - there was these Russian Cosmonauts that were - ah and the reason I am telling you about this is cause we got two - we got two witnesses to this. The Russian Cosmonauts gave the report that they saw seven angelic beings flying towards earth with the wings the size of a jumbo jet. OK. So what happened was in 1985 when I was in Israel I met up with those people. Seriously.

FBI: You met up with who now? The seven? The two Cosmonauts?

Koresh: No. No. No. See- the Russian Cosmonauts were in their space station.

FBI: Right.

Koresh: And they radioed down to their headquarters. They were terrified.

FBI: Right. I can understand.

Koresh: That they saw seven angelic beings.

FBI: Um-hm.

Koresh: moving towards the earth.

FBI: Ok. And you met these seven angelic beings.

Koresh: Exactly.

FBI: Where?

Koresh: In Israel.

FBI: Yeah. But where in Israel?

Koresh: (laughing) On Mt. Zion over in Israel.

FBI: Oh. Ok.

Koresh: Ok. Let me tell you something. It's awesome. Angel's don't really have wings. But what they have is called a Merk - a Merkhavah.

FBI: A what?

Koresh: A Merkhavah.

FBI: Which is?

Koresh: It's a - it's a spaceship.

FBI: A spaceship?

Koresh: It's - it's - it's a vehicle. I mean - it - it travels by light.

FBI: Ok.

Koresh: and the refraction of light. You know how the rainbow and all that.

FBI: You know this sounds - are you familiar with Eric ah - oh well. Eric Von Daniken?

Koresh: Who's that?

FBI: Chariot of the Gods?

Koresh: Yeah. Well see - I got that film in 1986 or 87 because I was looking for - for documentation to try and explain to my students just exactly when - how I got this knowledge of the seals.

FBI: Um-hm.

Koresh: So what happened to me - literally happened to me didn't jus happen to me so I could say, 'Wow man. I was taken up to - past Orion and it was - wow - and I saw this and'

FBI: Was there anyone with you when this happened David?

Koresh: Absolutely not!

FBI: And you were just on top of this mountain and this happened?

Koresh: Well see - Mt. Zion is really - is where the city is. It's where the - ah - the old city is.

FBI: Ok 4

That is the key to all of Koresh's teachings and actions post 1985. He believed that he derived his authority directly from God - a God to be loved as well as feared, obeyed at all costs, and a message to be delivered to the world whether it was rejected or not.  Not only was the message of importance, but also the messenger. His Jerusalem experience also revealed to him - or we should say reinforced what may have been in the back of his mind - just who he believed that he was in the whole scheme of the prophecies especially those concerning the latter days. After 1985, Koresh began a new phase of his ministry armed with God's message, and with God's authority.

Salvation according to Koresh

Koresh taught that salvation under the Seven Seals was different for us today than what was offered by Jesus at Calvary two thousand years ago. Some see salvation as once saved always saved, that is the eternal security of the believer is secured by personal repentance and faith in the redemptive blood and sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.  Others view it as conditional - a person can, because of sin, fall out of favor with God and if death occurs while in that state (without repentance and forgiveness) the soul can receive God's judgment of eternal hell.  Catholicism is in between these two views.  Catholics see a Purgatorial cleansing fire for those who have died with un-confessed (unforgiven) venial sins on their soul.  Those consigned to eternal damnation will be the ones who have died - who were not in a state of grace - and having committed unconfessed mortal sin.

Two thousand years ago Jesus came with a message of salvation from God, but was rejected and killed.  His cry from the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" ushered in the grace of God whereby mankind was not destroyed.  And just as Israel had waited for its Messiah to come for four thousand years only to kill him, as it had done to all of the prophets before him, so too now the world would have to wait for God's final messenger who was to come in the latter days with the last chance of salvation for a lost world.

Salvation under Koresh was to be found in the message of the seven seals (present truth) and was achieved by those (in the words of Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Matthew) who endure until the end. Specifically, one could state that they believed the Seven Seals message and the Seventh Angel (Koresh), but the proof of those statements was to follow the Lamb and his teachings until the last breath - no matter the cost.  It was not just a belief system, but also an experience. The notion of present truth is not foreign to Biblical theology. It also is known as progressive revelation. For our present generation it was not the cross of Calvary that would unify all, but the seven seals. 

Koresh: The subject of Revelation is God's last effort to bring into unity all the diversified bodies of opinion that claim to be under Christ. So there's only one acid test for anybody that claims to be enlightened in regards to the knowledge of God. Show me the seals and if they can't they have to wait then they have to wait until somebody can. 5

Now we shall turn to some excerpts of David Koresh's words before and during the standoff that appear to apply to his apocalyptic doctrine of death.  After that we will analyze the actions of both the BATF and the FBI and how they related to Koresh's theology and the final days of Mt. Carmel.

Biblical Doctrine of Death

Death for David Koresh and the Branch Davidians was not something to be feared.  Rather it was a stepping-stone into eternity and a fulfillment of prophecy. He taught that he and some of his followers would by martyred in Jerusalem in 1995. The reason for his death was to be because of his multiple wives.

Koresh: This Bird. He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be God's son yet everyone knew he was a sinner. He's got a lot of wives. They don't believe in polygamy so therefore they killed him, but that's all right he gets the last laugh, cause he is nothing but Biblical.
Student. The Bird is not Christ.
Schneider: No it's Michael. Daniel 12:1
Koresh: The Bird is killed because of his seed (sperm-offspring) - a bunch of pregnant women. The guy is a real Casanova 6

The seal of approval for the Davidians was death - being faithful to the Lamb and the seven seals message until the very end.

Koresh: After the first seal is the fifth seal. The thing that seals every last one of us & is death. So do you wanna be sealed? It's because - you go to Israel and you get killed. That's your seal of approval. They loved not their lives unto death. Right? We're
gonna have to first & kick some butt, buy and sell, and death and hell will follow to the world. And the world ain't gonna do a thing about it.  7

The guys that are with me - we're gonna bust the city down aren't we? Right guys? We're gonna die right? 8

Koresh taught that he and the Davidians would be fighting the King of the North's army that were going to be American troops invading Israel under the leadership of the United Nations. It was also to be a religious battle of Christianity versus Judaism.

Over on this mountain (Mt. Zion) - when the fire comes on and we're the ones preserved and we're killing all those American troops the world is gonna say, Look! Just like the Bible says. The dragon is persecuting us. Now that's confusion. Isn't it? That's Babylon. Christianity wants to confirm that Judaism is no longer acceptable. So by Christianity overthrowing Judaism& 9

The war in the Middle East was to culminate in the sixth seal that is understood to be the end of the world, and it was to be ushered in by the Lamb.

How's the end of the world gonna come people? According to Isaiah's testimony it's about a man on a white horse and a man on a mountain. 10

David Koresh - the Lamb - saw his death shown in the prophecies. Just as Moses who struck the rock (a type of Christ) twice so too was the Messiah to be slain a second time.

I'm a dead man. Do you understand that? I'm a dead man. I don't care about you. I don't worry about you. I'm a dead person. I'm a dead bird. Do you understand that? Every time you see me you look at death. It's because of your sins. You're a sinner. You need the sacrifice. I've already been slain. Everyday I'm being prepared for that reality that's already been. 11

The Lord comes in the morning - the Daystar. They're gonna take the Daystar away, right? 12

Those who remained steadfast to the seven seals message were going to be killed for their faith and testimony. They would be the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:9, but their deaths would not be the end of the events, but rather the beginning. They were to be resurrected and be part of those who would usher in the sixth seal along with God's army.

The first truth is this. What must I do to be saved! First of all here's what you do. The Lamb says he's gonna have some wives. Do you mind? So the Lamb's gonna have a bunch of wives. What do you say about it?
{Class responds Holy - Holy - Holy}.

And God's gonna cause a bunch of bloodshed. What do you think about it?

{Class responds Holy - Holy - Holy}.

And those who say

{Class responds Holy - Holy - Holy} in a world of unbelief are going to end up being souls under the altar. Two hundred million (UI) will stand up and show this world that what I teach is Bible truth. 13

Although Babylon would be destroyed by the seven seals message Koresh emphasized that he would first have to die.

The Arm of the Lord is a person and he's afraid of a man that's going to die (King of the North). Now the arm knows that this King of the North is gonna die, but the arm also knows that before he dies the King of the North is gonna get a piece of him. 14

David Koresh believed that the necessity of his death (as prophesized in the Bible) was also for the sins of his students and the world.

I'm trying to make intercession on behalf of those who've become alcoholics and drunkards at the very last moment of my passion. 15

God has shown me that my work is to make intercession for those from
31AD - the death of Christ to the end of the world.

I came to proclaim the truth - to die. 17

When it all comes down to it God has instructed that I pay the tab.  Those whom I know are those whom God has given me.  And they know me. 18

Significance of the Name David Koresh

The name David Koresh has some significance that needs to be understood. Koresh taught that his first taken name David (for King David in the Hebrew scriptures) means beloved. Koresh (Cyrus from Isaiah 45) means death.  Hence the name David Koresh meant beloved death.  And more - during the FBI negotiations Koresh told the FBI how to pronounce his last name and it was the sound of a death rattle like when one takes his last living breath. Koresh even likened the sacred Hebrew name of Yaweh to his message.

Ya (inhale - life) weh (exhale - death).  The Jews said that it was too holy to use the word Yaweh.  Anyway.  They're crazy anyway.  19

The significance of death and martyrdom in Koreshian theology cannot be overstated. Neither can the willingness to place him and the lives of his followers in jeopardy as he did with his armed confrontation with George Roden at the Mt. Carmel property in 1988. Even the attack of the BATF on Mt. Carmel on February 28, 1993 has some theological roots.

We can make the argument that had it not been for Koresh's revelation of the new light message in 1989 that all the women of the world belonged to him - a revelation followed up with sexual activity between Koresh and some of the married woman at Mt. Carmel (that may have included underage girls) Marc Breault may have never broken away from the group thereby unleashing a course of events that began with the actions of the BATF and ended with those of the FBI on April 19, 1993.

Regardless of David Koresh's teachings and theology he and the Branch Davidians had every right to exercise their faith in whatever manner that they chose to as long as it did not violate state or federal law.  And in the event that some laws were violated they should have been treated in a professional manner by the law enforcement agencies investigating and acting upon the supposed infractions.

A Synopsis of February 28, 1993 20

Listen to it -God it sounds like a war!

The ATF mobile radio van made its way towards Mt. Carmel Center. The agents were cautious as they approached FM 2491 off Loop 340 because they would be driving right past one of the critical areas known as the Mag-Bag, or as they referred to it one of the "bad locations."  The Mag-Bag was actually an auto repair garage that was owned by some of the Branch Davidians.  On this Sunday morning there were only three people inside.

 "OK, see where that treetop is?  You have to make that turn. The Mag-Bag is that brown building over there. Once we get by him we're ok."   The van continued on its way down the road, past the rolling hills and the cows that were grazing in the fields. "You see the radio towers up ahead?  We're getting close."  The radio crackled and hummed, and static filled the van as a voice announced over the radio "they're saddling up."

Back at the ATF staging area more than seventy-five of their fellow agents were ready to go. Each man represented the finest from the ATF filed offices including Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans.  They had rehearsed for the raid over and over again and even as late as Saturday February 27 the drilling had continued. The plan called for them to drive right up to the front of the Mt. Carmel complex in two trailers, and with air support from Blackhawk helicopters they would rush through the front doors and catch its occupants off guard. Other agents would fan out, some climbing onto the roof and through a window to secure the area where they believed that the guns were kept. Even with the timing firmly down and their familiarity with the layout of the building it was still a very dangerous operation. 

They were acutely aware that they would be making a dynamic entry into a building full of men, women, children, and firearms to serve a search and arrest warrant on David Koresh.  Surprise and secrecy were the key elements to a safe and successful mission.

Among the agents taking part in the raid that morning was Conway LaBleu, 30 years old, from the New Orleans field division.  He was married and the father of two children.

Steven Willis, 32, came from the Houston field office and was handpicked for the assignment.  Unmarried and with no children, Willis was devoted to his job and worked as a special agent in Houston. In his spare time he enjoyed racing and was at good at winning every race that he entered. Willis was tight lipped with his girlfriend Angela Barba about the operation he was going to participate in.  She knew that it was somewhere in North Texas and that he was glad to be going, but at the same time he was uneasy about it. He told her that he was certain someone was going to die and that someone was going to be an agent. Angela decided to stay in Steve's townhouse for the rest of the weekend to wait for his telephone call.  Steve promised that he would call her by Sunday evening. 

Todd McKeehan was 28 years old, married and also from the New Orleans Field division.  On Saturday, the day before the raid, he made a telephone call to his family. He spoke to his father and brother telling them how much he loved his job, and like all ATF agents, he knew that he placed his life on the line every time he went out.  But he worried about this assignment and he told them so. Although it was no consolation to him, they were worried too.

Robert Williams came from the Little Rock, Ark. Office.  At 26, he was happily married and had planned a long career in the law enforcement agency that he loved.  If he was worried about the raid he didn't mention it to anyone.  Being a professional, he was focused on the role he was to play and went over it in his head, visualizing everything that needed to be done. He wanted to go to Waco because that was his job, and he wanted to do it right without any casualties. Somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered that Monday would be his 27th birthday.

All four agents; LaBleu, Willis, McKeehan and Williams would be dead by 11:00 a.m. on February 28, 1993.

The agents, armed and dressed in their protective gear, climbed into the tarp covered cattle trailers that hid their presence and started the journey that would take them into the world of David Koresh and the Seven Seals.  They were "saddled up."

As the radio van went further down Double E Ranch Road Mt. Carmel Center, the sprawling tan building that would become a familiar site to the world within a matter of hours came into view. So far- so good. All was going according to schedule. The secrecy had been maintained, or so they thought.  No one was visible outside the building.   Not even the cows looked up from their feeding.

The radio van stopped at a designated area for a radio check.  It was the job of the agents inside to relay messages to various on site personnel "Campus - we are on the ranch going to the out building. Cavanaugh - radio van on Double E - channel 1.  Are you aware that everyone is rolling - rolling." Cavanaugh answered, but his transmissions were breaking up.  The van backed up a little in an attempt to get a better signal.  The radio crackled again. Chonjnacki (pronounced Wynoski) was now on channel 1 - clear mode.  The relay message was then sent to the helicopters that were to approach the Branch Davidian Church from the back of the building as a diversionary tactic.  This portion of the operation had been timed to the second.  With the radio check complete the van began to make its way closer to the building.  Suddenly, in the distance a person appeared on the road. "Is he an agent, or is he ATF?"  The vehicle stopped to inquire who he was. "Hey partner what's up?"  It was ok.  His name was Dunlap - a "good guy."

Cavanaugh gave the order, "bring the birds in - bring the birds in."  The helicopters began to take off from the staging area. The agents in the van passed the word on. " Chonjnacki  - 45 seconds out and announce."  Cavanaugh then added something very important.  "Radio van, tell them we want them to advise us on the 45 seconds out - we're going to want them to move in a little faster than we planned."

Inside the Branch Davidian Church, David Koresh was giving another one-on-one Bible study to a new recruit named Robert Garcia. It was the eighth study that they had together, and although Koresh was suspicious of his new student, he treated him like everyone else that he had ever taught.  To Koresh the Seven Seals was the ultimate truth that needed to be communicated to everyone who had ears to hear it.  It made no difference whether the student was The President of the United States, a disgruntled Seventh Day-Adventist, a housewife, a government agent or a street person. The revelation of the Seven Seals was God's final truth for the last days.  To accept the Seals was eternal life, and to reject them was death.

Robert Garcia was in reality Robert Rodriguez, a special agent for the BATF.  His job was to infiltrate Mt. Carmel and to obtain intelligence that would assist in the ATF's raid.  Rodriguez loved the BATF and he loved his work, but he did not like this assignment, in fact he hated it and he hated every moment that he had to spend with Koresh.  He hated what Koresh preached, and he hated to pretend that he was interested in the Seven Seals message.  The only solace that he had was that this would be his last Bible study, and for that he was thankful.  He had reluctantly agreed with Koresh's request that he move into Mt. Carmel on March 1 and join the other students on a full time basis.  Several times Rodriguez had asked those in charge if the raid would be happening on schedule. He needed to be reassured because, as he had told those in charge of the operation, he had no intentions of ever going back in to that building again, let alone move in there. Rodriguez breathed a sigh of relief when he was told that the raid would take place as planned on February 28th.

Kathryn and Mike Schroeder had been studying the Seven Seals with David Koresh since moving to Mt. Carmel from Miami, Florida in 1989. Since their arrival in Waco they had added one more child to their family, a son named Bryan.  During the first part of 1993 Kathy and Mike had not spent much time together, usually seeing each other only at the Bible studies. Mike had been spending most of his time at the Mag-Bag along with Woodrow Kendrick and Delroy Nash tinkering around with engines.  In fact, all three men were inside the Mag-Bag on the morning of Sunday, February 28th as the ATF van drove past the building on its way to Mt. Carmel.

Friday, two days before the ATF raid, Kathy Schroeder had gone into Waco to take her son to a doctor's appointment. She tried to take at least one trip a month into town. During those times, if alone, she would sneak one or two cigarettes as smoking at Mt. Carmel was forbidden. She had been caught smoking once a short while after moving in, but managed to quit after a strong rebuke from David. Now, depending on her situation, should indulge herself with a smoke whenever she went into town. With the doctors appointment finished she decided to call her mother and sister and spoke to them for nearly an hour before heading back. Her weakness for cigarettes had gotten the best of her and she had purchased a pack of Merit Ultra Light 100's to bring back with her. She didn't give the Surgeon General's warning stamped on the side of the pack any thought. She already knew that cigarette smoking was hazardous to ones health. What she didn't know was that this package of cigarettes was going to save her life.

On Sunday, February 28th Robert Garcia entered Mt. Carmel around 8:30 a.m. for what would be his last Bible study with David Koresh. He went into the living room, small room off the main entrance and next to the office of Wayne Martin the Branch Davidian lawyer. Garcia knew that he only had a half hour window before the raid was to begin.  No matter what, he had to be out of there by 9:15 a.m.  He also knew that Koresh was long winded in his studies. But that was ok.  He would come up with a good excuse to leave. His job that morning was to make a last minute survey of the people and the building and report anything unusual to his superiors before the raid started.  It was a little unusual, but Steve Schneider and Shari Jewell decided to sit in on this study with David and his student.  Garcia had brought with him a copy of the Waco Tribune-Herald with the first article of the Sinful Messiah series.  He wanted to ask David some questions about it. Koresh entered the room with Bible in hand, greeted his student, sat down in a chair directly opposite him and began to speak from the prophecies about the Seven Seals.

Word had spread among the news community that something big was going to be happening in Waco and it didn't take a crystal ball to find out where.  Sharon Wheeler from the ATF had phoned several news organizations in the area looking for weekend contact numbers. She would later testify that it was ATF standard operation procedure to hold a post operation news conference for the purpose of informing the media about the details.  To make matters worse on Saturday, the day before the raid, The Waco Tribune- Herald began publishing a seven part series on David Koresh called The Sinful Messiah. The series was a blistering front-page attack on Koresh that profiled him as a cult leader with a Messianic complex. The ATF was not happy with the timing of the article, but had concluded that it would not harm their plans for a raid the next day. 

That Sunday morning it was quiet in Waco as it is in all rural communities - with little traffic on the road - most seemed content to sit back and enjoy the last day of the weekend.  Besides it was overcast and there was a light drizzle of rain.  It was a perfect day to lay low.

The two reporters were lost and had pulled over to the side of the road trying to get their bearings. Should they continue on?  Should they turn around?  They knew that Mt. Carmel was around there somewhere - they just didn't know where. Suddenly they saw a truck approaching them.  This was their lucky day.  It was a postal truck.  If anyone knew where Mt. Carmel was it would be a mailman.  As the truck approached their vehicle it slowed down finally stopping next to them.  The U.S. postal worker leaned over and asked them what was up - were they lost?   The answer the postman received made him sit straight up.  Yes, they were lost and they needed to get to Mt. Carmel Center, the home of those religious nuts.  There was going to be a raid and they were going to cover the story.  They did not know it, but they had just tipped of the Branch Davidians about what was going to happen.  The postal worker was David Jones, and he was David Koresh's brother-in-law.

Inside Mt. Carmel Garcia sat and listened as Koresh spoke about the difference between his preaching and that of others ministers.  Up to that point everything was normal. As always, David's manner of speech was cool and authoritative. Suddenly, Perry Jones, David's father-in-law, entered the room. "David you have a phone call."  David didn't like being interrupted, especially when he was teaching, and ignored the call. A few minutes later Perry again came into the living room.  "David, you have an emergency call from England." 

David decided to take this call and quickly got up and left the room.  Steve Schneider made some small talk with Garcia for about three or four minutes until David returned.  As David came back into the room Garcia looked up at him and was shocked by what he saw.  Whatever happened outside the room had caused a complete transformation in Koresh.  Rodriguez later testified that it was like "day and night." David was breathing hard like he was out of breath and he was shaking - "shaking real bad."  David put his hands in his pockets and sat down close to his student trying to pick up the conversation from where he had left off.  He reached for his Bible, picked it up and opened it to a portion of scripture that he wanted to read to make a point, but he was shaking so bad that he couldn't even read it. Garcia stopped him in mid sentence, put his hands on David's Bible to steady it and asked him "what's wrong?"  At that moment everything stopped - like time was standing still.  Koresh took a deep breath and turned to look at Garcia right in the eye and said, "Robert, neither the ATF or the National Guard will ever get me.  They got me once, and they'll never get me again."   Garcia dropped his head and stared at the floor. For a moment he felt light headed and had to struggle to keep telling himself to relax. He took several deep breaths. He couldn't believe that Koresh knew.  His first thought was that he had stayed too long in the building. He didn't want to be there when the raid took place, and he also was not interested in being held hostage. He glanced at his watch. It was a little before 9:00.  He still had a little time left, but he knew he had to get out of there fast.  The room began to fill up with other people. Some were standing in front of the door and others standing behind him.  Garcia had nowhere to go.  All eyes were on Koresh as he walked from one window to the other peering outside.  He spoke to Garcia without looking at him, "They're coming, Robert.  They're coming."

The minutes were ticking by and finally Garcia spoke up and said that he had to leave to have breakfast with some friends.  Koresh looked at him for a second and then at the people who were blocking the front door.  With a nod of his head, the front door was opened clearing the way for Garcia to leave.  As he made his way towards the door Koresh stopped him, looked at him in they eye and taking his hand and shaking it said, "Good luck, Robert."

The BATF's Big Blunder

It felt just like a movie. Garcia had made his way from the building to his truck and was fumbling with the keys.  It was all he could do to start it.  Finally the engine fired up and he drove off fast going directly to the undercover house where he had lived since December.  He wanted to advise those in charge to call the raid off because it had been compromised and his fellow ATF agents were in danger.  It took about three minutes to get to the house where four forward observers, or snipers were along with AFT agent Jim Cavanaugh and two other agents that had worked undercover with Garcia. It looked like a football huddle as Garcia told Cavanaugh and the others what had happened inside Mt. Carmel. Cavanaugh didn't mince his words; "We'd better call Chuck right now."  Garcia picked up the phone and called Chuck.

Chuck Sarabyn was the tactical coordinator of the SRT's as well as several support teams.  His job was to pass on information to the incident commander and his deputy.  When he finally got him on the phone Garcia hollered, "Chuck, they know, they know.  They know we're coming!"   Sarabyn response was calm, "What happened?" Garcia related everything that had transpired inside of Mt. Carmel.  Sarabyn's next question was "Did you see any guns? What was Koresh wearing?"  After Garcia answered his questions Sarabyn responded, "OK" and hung up. Their conversation was brief, so brief that Garcia decided to go over to the command post and talk with Sarabyn in person, and to tell him again that the Davidians knew about their plans and to call the raid off. 

By the time Garcia arrived at the headquarters it was too late. He asked excitedly "Where's Chuck? Where's Chuck?" But Sarabyn had already left. The raid was proceeding. Garcia's warning had been ignored.  He was so upset that he started yelling in front of everyone, "Why? why? why? They know we're coming!  They know we're coming!"  The room became so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  Garcia went outside, sat down and began to cry.  He was still crying when Sharon Wheeler came over to him and told him about the shootout happening at Mt. Carmel

Around 8:15 a.m. while Victorine Hollingsworth was eating millet in her bedroom when she was told that all the women were to go into the church. Upon entering the church she took her place sitting on the ladies side of the room. She was surprised to see that there were no men there. It remained that way until Perry Jones came into the room and began talking with the women. He stayed there with them for about an hour. Suddenly David Koresh appeared in the doorway all dressed in black, wearing a bulletproof vest, and holding a rifle. He looked upset and annoyed that the women were in the church. "Who told y'all to come into the church? Get back to your room." On her way back to her room she passed the cafeteria and saw Rick Bennett dressed in black and also holding a rifle and standing next to the cafeteria door that led to the swimming pool.

The Davidians were locked and cocked. Now all they had to do was wait for Babylon to make its move.

As soon Hollingsworth had reached her room she heard the sound of gunshots coming from the front foyer area, but could not tell whether it was coming from inside or outside. She fell to the floor and layed down in the passageway along with Sheila Martin and Paulina Henry.

As the sound of gunfire and bullets smashing

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