WACO, Texas — The Branch Dravidian siege in Waco and the Oklahoma City Bombing are two events that lead to a major change in the U.S. One question is would you have one without the other?
The Waco siege also known as the Waco massacre started on February 28, 1993, and came to an end on April 19 of that year. The Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh located around 13 miles from Waco were a religious group.
Accused of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ATF received a search warrant and arrest warrants for Koresh, along with others in the group.
The ATF believed that the following items were on the compound:
- 136 firearms, including assault rifles and handguns
- 700+ magazines for those firearms
- 200,000+ rounds of ammunition
- 110 upper and lower receivers for AR15/M16 rifles
- Grenade-launcher attachments for AR15/M16 rifles
- 400+ empty M31 rifle grenades, along with black powder and other explosive chemicals
ATF special agents from the Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans Field Divisions were assigned to execute federal warrants at the Branch Davidian compound on February 28, 1993. When the warrants were executed a gunfight started, and four government agents were killed.
Special Agent Conway LeBleu
Special Agent Conway LeBleu joined ATF on August 31, 1987, and was assigned to the New Orleans Field Division. He carried badge #2134. During his short career, Agent LeBleu was the recipient of Special Act Awards in 1988 and 1991 for investigative excellence. He was also recognized by Louisiana State University for his participation in a field service training program for students. Prior to joining ATF, he served with the Calcasieu Parish, LA, Sheriff's Department. Conway loved all sports and was an avid hunter. He graduated from McNeese State University (Louisiana) in 1987. Agent LeBleu was born in Lake Charles, LA. He was survived by his wife and their two sons.
Special Agent Todd McKeehan
Special Agent Todd McKeehan joined ATF on October 8, 1989, and was assigned to the New Orleans Field Division. He carried badge #1255. During his short career, he was the recipient of two Special Act Awards (1990 and 1991) for significant contributions to major investigations. Prior to joining ATF, he worked with the Sullivan County (TN) Sheriff's Department and during college, had completed an internship with U.S. Marshal Service. Todd was a member of the United States Marine Corps (Reserve) and was called to duty for Operation Desert Shield in November 1990, where he served for six months. He graduated from East Tennessee State University (1988) and was a member of the National Honor Society. Agent McKeehan was born in Johnson City, TN. He was survived by his wife.
Special Agent Robert Williams
Special Agent Robert Williams joined ATF on October 9, 1988, and was assigned to the New Orleans Field Division, Little Rock (AR) field office. He carried badge #2933. During his short career, Agent Williams received several Letters of Appreciation; for his investigative assistance to the Arkansas State Police on a large commercial fire; as an assistant instructor at an explosive handler's school for police officers; and for his assistance in an explosives safety training seminar for members of the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission. Agent Williams' father, James, is a retired United States Secret Service Agent. Rob was a graduate (1988) of Florida State University. He was also an accomplished and certified scuba diver. Agent Williams was born in Baltimore, MD. He was survived by his wife.
Special Agent Steven Willis
Special Agent Steven Willis joined ATF on July 1, 1990, and was assigned to the Houston Field Division. He carried badge #3061. Previously, SA Willis was an investigator for three years with the Defense Investigative Service. Steve was an avid race car driver in his spare time. He finished as one of the top three drivers at championship races (1985-1988) sponsored by the Tri-State Sports Car Council. Steve was a graduate (1986) of Southwest Texas State University, where he received a B.S. in Criminal Justice. During college, he completed an internship with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Agent Willis was born in New Orleans, LA. He was single and survived by his parents and sister.
Six Branch Davidians were also killed in the gunfire. Both say the other shot the first shot.
The events were all over TV and several came out during the stand-off. One person named Timothy McVeigh would show up angry at the government and sold bumper stickers.
The bumper stickers would say:
"Fear the Government That Fears Your Guns"
"When Guns are Outlawed, I Will Become an Outlaw"
"Politicians Love Gun Control"
"A Man with a Gun is a Citizen. A Man without a Gun Is a Subject"
"Ban Guns. Make the Streets Safe for a Government Takeover"
On April 19, 1993, the building would go up in fire. Agents drove tanks into the compound helping ignite the flames. The fire killed 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Koresh himself.
McVeigh, angry at the government, would become the mastermind of the largest homegrown terrorist event on American soil.
On April 19, 1995, a former Army soldier and a security guard was about to commit mass murder. Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.
168 people were killed after the bomb went off just after 9 a.m.
McVeigh wouldn't act alone in the bombing. McVeigh's good friend, Michael Fortier, became a star witness in the bombing case against McVeigh. He told the FBI that McVeigh believed the Branch Davidians were "murdered" by the federal government.
Both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols held anti-government views. McVeigh was rejected from the Green Berets. He started associating with racist groups including Christian Identity, which has been deemed an anti-semitic hate group.
McVeigh told the Associated Press that the bombing at the government building in Oklahoma City was out of anger at Waco and Ruby Ridge.