Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas: The Role of Other Law Enforcement Organizations

U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

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Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas
February 28 to April 19, 1993


VIII. The Role of Other Law Enforcement Organizations

As of April 9, there were 136 ATF personnel and six U.S. Customs Service employees in Waco., Local authorities consisted of eighteen persons from the Waco Police Department, seventeen from the McLennan County Sheriff's office, and, from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), 32 Texas Rangers and 131 members of the DPS Patrol. The total number of local law enforcement personnel present at Waco on any given day during the crisis varied.

A. The Texas Rangers

Texas Ranger Captain David Byrnes commanded a contingent of 31 Texas Rangers at Waco who assisted in the criminal investigation of the shootings of the ATF agents. The Rangers, working with the United States Attorney's Office and the ATF, were responsible for processing the crime scene. Although one ATF explosives expert, who was escorted on the scene by the Texas Rangers, was used to disarm explosives. No other ATF agents were involved in processing the crime scene. Captain Byrnes organized arrest teams in preparation for a surrender by the Branch Davidians.

Captain Byrnes reported that the Rangers' relationship with the FBI command post deteriorated rapidly. Numerous Rangers complained to him that SAC Jamar and others in the command post had treated them rudely. The Rangers eventually pulled out of what they considered a hostile atmosphere.

Captain Byrnes recounted a specific event in which the FBI's failure to cooperate may have impeded the search of the crime scene. On the afternoon of February 28, Michael Schroeder, a Branch Davidian, was killed while he and others attempted to penetrate the ATF perimeter on the north end of the property. Jamar initially allowed the Rangers to recover Schroeder's body and perform a limited crime-scene analysis. Later, the Rangers asked to be allowed to complete the crime-scene search by casting footprints and gathering other evidence. Jamar refused the request, and did not allow them back onto the crime scene for ten days. By then, rain had severely eroded the footprints they had hoped to process. After this incident, the Rangers had little or no contact with the FBI for the next three to four weeks. On occasions when they did meet with Jamar, they were forced to wait for extended periods of time, and often left without ever having seen Jamar.

Another point of contention centered around the FBI's decision to remove the vehicles from the compound. The Rangers and ATF had expressly opposed this tactic, and ATF had been told by the FBI that it would be consulted further before the vehicles were moved. The FBI then moved the vehicles without notifying the Rangers or ATF, leading them to conclude that they were intentionally misled.

Captain Byrnes said that the incidents with SAC Jamar and the FBI at Waco severely strained the relationship between the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety. He added that while he thought the strain would not affect the ability of the Rangers and DPS to participate in future criminal cases with the FBI, hard feelings would linger.

SAC Jamar has said he was fully aware of the dichotomy between the safety of law enforcement and the preservation of the crime scene. He noted that although every effort was made to consider the Texas Rangers' concerns regarding the crime scene, he felt it was more important to ensure that individuals within the compound and law enforcement safety be given first consideration. He also noted that as the length of time increased during the confrontation, the it was highly unlikely that the crime scene inside the compound would have been preserved intact.

B. The United States Attorney's Office

According to U.S. Attorney Ronald F. Ederer, when he and First Assistant United States Attorney Jim DeAtley arrived at the ATF command post in Waco late on the afternoon of February 28, they found things to be in a state of confusion. About one hour later, SAC Jamar and ASAC Manny Marquez arrived from San Antonio, and their arrival had a calming effect. Assistant United States Attorneys William Johnston and John Phinizy had already started working with the Rangers to determine whether someone had leaked information on the ATF raid.

Johnston was assigned as the Assistant United States Attorney to the ATF investigation of the Branch Davidian compound prior to the events of February 28. After the shootings, Johnston immediately got to work securing as much physical evidence as possible. He asked the Waco Police Department to assist him in photographing the damage done by gunfire from the compound to the military helicopters assisting in the raid. When Jamar arrived at the scene, Johnston asked him whether the FBI would be handling the criminal investigation. Jamar replied that the FBI would only be handling the barricade-hostage situation.

The following morning, Ederer and DeAtley began to put a prosecution team together; everyone expected that a large number of people were about to surrender, and decisions would have to be made about whom to charge and with what. During this time, Ederer noticed that Johnston had been directing the Texas Rangers, telling them what they needed to do. Ederer cautioned him that it was not his job to direct the investigation and warned him of the problems it would cause if he did so. Although the prosecution team began to work well together by the second week, Johnston apparently spent all of his time with the Rangers and away from the prosecutors.

By the end of the second week, the prosecutors were prepared for a large-scale surrender. Ederer, who was in daily contact with Jamar, experienced no coordination problems between his office and the FBI. He added that although the ATF initially had some hurt feelings when the FBI stepped in and took over the case, the friction had eased by the end of the second week and the prosecution interviews of agents were progressing.

One of the principal points of conflict between the Rangers and the FBI concerned the moving of vehicles from around the compound. This was the primary issue raised by Johnston in a March 23, 1993 letter to the Attorney General.(28)

According to Ederer, the friction between the law enforcement agencies had absolutely no effect on the ultimate outcome of the standoff. Representatives of the ATF were always present in the FBI command post, and the ATF special agent-in-charge had regular contact with Jamar. Ederer knew of no serious communication problems between the FBI, ATF, and the other law-enforcement decision-makers.

C. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

After the shootings at the Mount Carmel compound on the morning of February 28, the situation at the ATF command post became chaotic. Although individual ATF agents were handling urgent tasks relating to the wounded, no one was coordinating these individual efforts, and the overall situation deteriorated rapidly. At about 5:30 p.m., SAC Jamar arrived from San Antonio and immediately began to establish a command post for the FBI. Several hours later, Daniel Conroy, ATF Deputy Associate Director of Law Enforcement, arrived at the ATF command post to find it still in disarray, despite efforts by the on-scene commanders to restore order and deal with the most pressing tasks, such as continuing negotiations with the Branch Davidians, coordinating the recovery of the released children, and handling the large influx of ATF agents, and state and local law enforcement officers volunteering for service. Efforts were also underway to obtain military equipment from the Texas National Guard, and to deal with the media.

Later that evening, Daniel Hartnett, ATF's Associate Director of Law Enforcement, arrived at the ATF command post and established a new ATF command structure, which defined that agency's role for the remainder of the standoff. The primary ATF responsibilities beginning March 1 were establishing an outer security perimeter, providing security for hospitalized agents, and assisting the FBI in the negotiations with the Davidians. Pursuant to its responsibility for the overall criminal investigation of Koresh and his followers, ATF provided a senior official to act as liaison with the Texas Rangers. Additionally, reciprocal liaison was arranged between the FBI and ATF command posts.

Perspectives differed on the degree of cooperation between ATF and the FBI. For example, one of the ATF officials assigned as liaison to the FBI command post advised that the liaison between the two agencies was smooth, considering the crisis nature of the investigation. There were times, however, when he was asked to leave the room so the FBI officials could discuss "personnel matters."

An FBI supervisory special agent responsible for liaison between ATF-and FBI Headquarters said that during his brief assignment to the ATF command post in the first week of March, he had experienced problems obtaining information.

  1. This disagreement -- along with other developments -- prompted Criminal Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Richard's trips to Waco. See discussion below at pages 250-59.

Continue... IX. The Justice Department's Role: February 28 - March 12, 1993 ->