NewsRemembering OKC Bombing & Branch Davidian Siege


Branch Davidian siege, OKC Bombing dominate news coverage

Posted at 3:14 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 16:18:41-04

WACO — It would be two major events that America would watch for hours on TV.

When the Branch Dravidian compound led by David Koresh went under siege footage from the gunfight was quickly on TV for millions to watch.

"What sticks with me is the misunderstanding and how unavoidable that was," said David Thibodeau, a Branch Dravidian survivor told 25 News.

At the time there were four major ways to get your news in real-time. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN.

"It seems like it's a thing that people want to stay away from," Thibodeau says.

David Thibodeau wrote a book "Waco" that was turned into a mini-series now streaming on Netflix.

David Thibodeau has been critical of the news coverage.

"I am surprised over the years by how many misconceptions there really are," said Thibodeau.

One of the arguments nearly three decades later, who shot first?

"Everyone in that building insisted that the helicopters were firing at the building," said Thibodeau.

ATF agents who were assigned to the raid have testified at a congressional hearing that the Branch Davidians fired the first shots.

But is that the case?

One ATF agent told an investigator that an agent may have shot first when he killed a dog outside the compound. But that agent later retracted the statement, saying that the Branch Davidians had initiated the gunfire.

"These individuals were predisposed to kill federal agents," Roland Ballesteros ATF special agent said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2018.

Four government agents were killed in the siege along with 6 Branch Davidians. A 51-day stand-off would start.

That stand-off would play minute by minute live on TV. Reporters two miles away would around the clock.

In many ways, it was the start of those not trusting the government.

"I just want to humanize the people that died, I want people to know what happened there was much deeper than what they were lead to believe," said Thibodeau.

In Waco, a man by the name of Timothy Mcveigh would appear. He was upset about the siege and would kill 168 people in Oklahoma City.

David Thibodeau makes it clear that The Branch Davidians had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bombing. He believes violence is not the answer.

"We are becoming more polarized political, you've got the extreme right and you've got the extreme left and they both are yelling at each other," said Thibodeau.

On April 19, 1995, a bomb would go off just after 9 a.m. It would be two years after the Branch Dravidian building would go up in flames.

Two years before the Oklahoma City bombing FBI agents moved in to end a 51-day standoff. Ramming holes in the group’s compound with armored vehicles and spraying tear gas inside. About six hours later, smoke poured from the compound, which soon was consumed by a massive fire.

David Thibodeau would be at a two-year memorial service for the Branch Davidians that died. That's when he would learn about what was taking place in Oklahoma City.

Once again it would be around-the-clock news coverage. Timothy MeVeigh would quickly be arrested after a trooper stopped him for not displaying a license plate.

Columbia journalism review wrote an article in 2015 called The Timothy McVeigh case and its impact on media law.

From the start, the public had an interest in the case.

“The media interest was extraordinary,” Nelon said during the panel.“Reporters covered the rescue and recovery, the personal stories of victims, the response of police and fire units, the cooperation of public officials and outside groups like the Red Cross, and the motivations of McVeigh and [accomplice Terry] Nichols.”

Years later the public has a huge interest in both Waco and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Now with podcast, blogs, and other forms of media David Thibodeau continues to share his story.