Former dispatchers remember 911 calls from Branch Davidian raid

Posted at 9:26 PM, Feb 28, 2018

On the 25th anniversary of the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound Wednesday, a special dinner was held at a restaurant in Waco.

It's something everyone who was in Waco's emergency dispatch center the day of the raid does every few years or so on the anniversary.

They said the memories of the intensity of that day are as clear as they were on Feb. 28, 1993.

"Just to hear the gunfire. That was not a normal Saturday night in Waco, Texas, call," Jayni Sykora, a dispatcher on the day of the raid said while talking with Central Texas News now.

Sykora said she was the first 911 dispatcher to take a call from inside the Branch Davidian Compound.

Her conversation was quite short.

"911, what's your emergency," Sykora said.

"There are men, 75 men around our building shooting at us," said Wayne Martin, the Branch Davidians' Attorney during the call.

Sykora then asked him to wait a moment.

"Because it was not just neighbors asking what was going on. You could, of course, hear everything that was going on in the background, so I knew that it would be better handled by Larry Lynch," Sykora said.

Future McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch, a lieutenant at the time, quickly took the phone.

For the next 30 hours, he hashed-out a cease-fire, and then the release of wounded federal agents still in the compound.

He said he could not have done it without the women who normally handle those phones.

"The ladies of dispatch is what I call them. They saved me that day," Lynch said.

He said they handled everything from calls to radio traffic to coffee staying well beyond their scheduled shifts.

"Yeah, they didn't want to leave. Their supervisor made them leave," Lynch said.

Their efforts weren't lost on the Feds.

Once FBI supervisor Byron Sage showed up to help Lynch in the negotiations, he quickly realized he was working with a special bunch.

"Dealing with a situation so unprecedented, so difficult, so complicated ... it was a godsend quite literally to have the quality of people we got to work with," Sage said.

They said, however, they never want to do it again.

"I mean it was an actual gunfight. It was something beyond anything any of us had ever heard," Sykora said.

It is worth noting that everyone at the 911 center the day of the raid has since retired.

All of them stayed on, however, throughout the entire Davidian episode, the deaths of four agents and six cult members the day of the raid, and then the deaths of 76 more Davidians in the fire 51 days later.

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