New video released on 24th anniversary of Branch Davidian compound raid

Posted at 3:31 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 16:44:36-05

Tuesday marks 24 years since the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound in rural McLennan County near Waco.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was trying to disarm the religious group that lived there, but those efforts led to a shootout. By the time a ceasefire was negotiated four ATF agents were dead along with six Davidians.

“That didn’t occur quite like they had planned,” former McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said of the ATF raid.

Lynch was a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office at the time of the raid on February 28, 1993. He served as the chief negotiator with several Branch Davidians. Among them was attorney Wayne Martin, and group leader David Koresh.

“He was very lucid,” Lynch says of Koresh. “He was kind of confrontational and wanted to talk theology and stuff like that.”

Over the next 30 hours, Lynch brokered a ceasefire between the Davidians and government agents. But he wasn’t able to convince the members of the religious group to leave their compound. A 51 day standoff ensued, and then on April 19 as government tanks poked holes in the building, the compound erupted into flames. Investigators would find 76 bodies inside once the fire was out.

“We didn’t get the situation stopped and people out,” Lynch says. “I did the best that I could at that point in time with the knowledge and the equipment and stuff that I had.”

The FBI led the siege on the compound, but local police departments and sheriff’s offices provided security. Those efforts put a strain on their resources, and that’s why volunteers like Ken Brown reported for duty. Now the mayor of Moody, Brown was a McLennan County Sheriff’s Office and county jail employee at the time of the siege. He showed up with his video camera the day after the raid.

“I happened to have it in the vehicle with me,” Brown says of his camera. “So I got it out and set it up, because it looked like there was fixing to be another event.”

Brown says he volunteered to work security almost every weekend during the standoff, so paid officers could have a day off. He wasn’t on site the day of the raid or the fire that ended it.

“I’m really glad I wasn’t,” Brown says of his absence. “As it turns out I knew some of the people who were there. I had worked with some of them before. And I’m just glad that I didn’t witness that.”

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