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Waco Timeline

before continuing, click here to read about the key people involved in the standoff

 

1929 Victor Houteff, a Seventh-Day Adventist, establishes The Shepherd’s Rod.
1935 Houteff founds the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas, with 11 of his followers.
1955 Houteff dies and his wife takes over. After a few failed prophecies, she sells Mount Carmel to Ben Roden.
1965 Roden names the group the Branch Davidians. He claims that he is the fifth angel that is fortold in the book of Revelation. (Houteff had claimed himself to be the fourth angel)
1978 Roden dies. His wife Lois assumes the role of the sixth angel.
1981 Vernon Howell (later known as David Koresh) joins the Davidians and Lois fortells that he will be the groups' next prophet.
1990 Vernon Howell changes his name to David Koresh and takes leadership of the group. He thinks that if he can open the seven seals that are talked about in the Book of Revelation that he can bring about the second coming of Jesus. He convinces the Davidians that they are living in the end times and puts them into survival mode. They being stockpiling food and weapons.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1993

At about 9:30 a.m. the ATF try to raid the Branch Davidian Compund. Gunfire erupts. Four ATF agents are killed and 16 are wounded. Many Davidians are also killed or wouned. Within a few hours, the FBI becomes the lead agency for resolving the standoff.

MONDAY, MARCH 1 10 children are sent out of the compound.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3 Koresh says that he will not surrender because he's "dealing now with his Father" and not with "your bureaucratic system of government." He delivers various rambling sermons, focusing on such Biblical matters as "unlocking" the Seven Seals and interpreting God's intentions about the end of the world.
FRIDAY, MARCH 5 A nine-year-old girl named Heather Jones leaves compound wearing a note pinned to her jacket. On the note, her mother states that once the children are out, the adults will die. Koresh and his right hand man Steve Sscneider, deny they will commit suicide.
TUESDAY, MARCH 9 At 2:15 a.m., the electricity to the compound is shut off. Koresh says he will not allow talked to continue until power is restored, A short while later, power is restored. HRT members see weapons in the windows, and firing ports being cut in plywood placed in the windows.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10 Electricity is temporarily cut off again.
FRIDAY, MARCH 12

Janet Reno is sworn in as Attorney General. Jamar decides to cut ff power to the compund for good because "he wanted those inside the compound to experience the same wet and cold night as the tactical personnel outside."

The justification for cutting the power is that it is going to be a very cold night and maximum effect would be gained in making the Davidians uncomfortable inside the compound. Also, cutting the power is designed to challenge Koresh's control of the situation and to raise the level of stress within the compound to force more departures.

SATURDAY, MARCH 13 Schneider complains that people inside the compound are cold and freezing.
SUNDAY, MARCH 14 At nightfall the FBI begins to illuminate the compound with bright lights "to disrupt sleep, to put additional pressure on those inside and to increase the safety of the HRT."
THURSDAY, MARCH 18 The FBI broadcasts a message to those in the compound over a loudspeaker. The message says that any members of the compound that come out will be treated fairly. Nine members exit the compound.
SATURDAY, MARCH 20 Another Davidian, Rita Riddle, comes out of the compound
SUNDAY, MARCH 21 Two more women, Victorine Hollingsworth and Annetta Richards, leave the compound. The FBI begins to play Tibetan chants over the loudspeaker system. Koresh says: "Because of the loud music, nobody is coming out." A short while later, the loudspeaker system malfunctions.
TUESDAY, MARCH 23 At 10:05 a.m., Livingstone Fagan leaves the compound, the last one out during the standoff. At 10 p.m., the FBI shines floodlights on the compound and plays over the loudspeaker tapes of previous negotiations and messages from those who had exited the compound.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25 An FBI ultimatum is set. 10 to 20 people must leave by 4 p.m., or some action will be taken. At 4 p.m., armored vehicles move into the compound and remove motorcycles and go-carts.
FRIDAY, MARCH 26 Lights, music and helicopter activity occur throughout the night. The FBI issues another ultimatum and armored vehicles began clearing the area around the compund.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4 Lawyers meet with Koresh and decide that everyone will come out after Passover.
MONDAY, APRIL 5 The Davidians observe Passover
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7 Koresh refuses to confirm an exit date. HRT commander Richard Rogers proposes a tear gas plan.
FRIDAY, APRIL 9 Koresh sends letter to the FBI, saying the "heavens are calling you to judgment." The FBI finalizes plans to use tear gas and seeks Reno's approval.
FRIDAY, APRIL 16 Koresh tells negotiators that he has completed the manuscript on the First Seal. Reno rejects the tear gas plan.
SATURDAY, APRIL 17 Reno approves an amended FBI tear gas plan but gives the plan "only a cursory review, leaving tactical decisions to those at Waco."
SUNDAY, APRIL 18 Armored vehicles clear Koresh's Camaro away from the front of the compound. Although the FBI warns the Davidians to stay out of the tower, they hold children up in windows and, in one window, hold a sign saying, "Flames Await."
MONDAY, APRIL 19 Sage informs the Davidians, that a tear-gas assault is imminent. He reads a message over the loudspeaker, advising the Davidians that they are under arrest and should come out. At 6:02 a.m., two FBI combat vehicles begin inserting gas into the compound through spray nozzles attached to a boom. "At 6:04 a.m., the Davidians start shooting, and the FBI begin deploying Bradley vehicles to insert ferret rounds through the windows. At 6:31, the HRT reports that the entire building is being gassed. At 7:30, a CEV breaches the front side of the building on the first floor as it injects gas, and at 7:58 a.m., gas is inserted in the second floor of the back-right corner of the building. The FBI calls for more gas from outside Waco, and at 9:20 a.m., 48 more ferret rounds arrive from Houston. At about 9:30 a.m., with the supply of ferret rounds dwindling, one CEV is having mechanical troubles, and high winds are blowing the gas away. Another CEV begins enlarging the opening in the middle-front of the building "from which the Davidians could escape" and a third CEV with a boom but lacking a gas delivery system breaches the rear side of the building "to create openings near the gymnasium." The CEV without a gas delivery system breaches the back side of the compound. At 11:40 a.m., the last ferret rounds are delivered. At 11:45 a.m., a wall on the right-rear side of the building collapses. At 12:07 p.m., the Davidians start "simultaneous fires at three or more different locations within the compound." An HRT observer reports seeing "a male starting a fire" in the front of the building. At 12:12 p.m., Sage calls on Koresh to lead the Davidians out to safety. Nine Davidians flee the compound and are arrested. At about 12:25 p.m., the FBI hears "systematic gunfire" coming from the compound, leaving several agents to believe that the Davidians are either killing themselves or each other. At 12:41, fire-fighting efforts begin. The compound burns to the ground in a tremedous fireball killing 80 followers, 18 of which are children, and Koresh." (PBS.org, see bibliography for site link.

Information compiled by Dave Martin. Email me here dmartin@clam.rutgers.edu