U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas
February 28 to April 19, 1993
II. Chronology: February 28 to April 19, 1993
The following chronology highlights the important events occurring each day of the 51-day standoff.
February 28, 1993
The ATF began to execute the arrest warrant for David Koresh and the search warrant for the compound at approximately 9:30 a.m., and came under immediate gunfire. Negotiations began almost immediately with those inside the compound to effect a cease-fire. Sometime between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., ATF Deputy Director Dan Hartnett called FBI Associate Deputy Director Gow and requested the assistance of FBI negotiators in Waco. Gow agreed and called SAC Jamar in San Antonio. Gow directed SAC Jamar to send experienced negotiators to Waco. SAC Jamar decided to send Supervisory Special Resident Agent (SSRA) Byron Sage, who is a trained negotiator with considerable experience. At FBI Headquarters, the SIOC was immediately activated and was manned continuously for the next 51 days. During and immediately following the shootout two separate, yet coordinated, channels of negotiations occurred with those in the compound. one channel consisted of telephone communications between ATF Special Agent (SA) James Cavanaugh and mainly David Koresh. SA Cavanaugh negotiated the cease fire with Koresh. The second channel consisted of telephone communications between Lt. Larry Lynch of the Waco Police Department and mainly Steve Schneider and Wayne Martin inside the compound. Schneider was generally considered to be Koresh's second-in-command; while Martin was an attorney. Martin reached the Waco Police Department during the shootout by dialing 911. Koresh also would periodically speak to Lt. Lynch over this line. The principal goal of the negotiations, after establishing the cease fire and removing the dead and wounded ATF agents, was securing the release of the children inside the compound. SSRA Sage joined the negotiations over the "911" line at approximately 2:00 p.m. Prior to that, all four FBI agents assigned to the Waco office had already reported to the scene and were assisting wherever possible. In an afternoon meeting at ATF Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Larry Potts, the FBI's Assistant Director for the Criminal Investigative Division, and Associate Deputy Director Gow were briefed on the situation in Waco by ATF Deputy Director Dan Hartnett. They discussed the deployment of the FBI's HRT and they agreed that FBI negotiators and SACs would be assigned immediately to Waco. However, at that point the FBI could send only advance HRT units to Waco, because FBI policy prohibits deploying the full HRT unless an FBI SAC has full on-site control. In anticipation of this possibility, Jamar was instructed to leave immediately for Waco. At that point, ATF officials had only agreed to consider turning over full control to the FBI. The Texas Rangers were also immediately deployed to Waco. Within a few days, 32 Rangers were assigned to Waco, first to assist the ATF, then later to be the lead agency for the ongoing criminal investigation. The Rangers assumed the responsibility for the ongoing investigations, because SAC Jamar, in deference to the ATF who had lost four agents, wanted to limit the role of the FBI to the resolution of the standoff. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding between the FBI and ATF gave the ATF jurisdiction in cases involving the injury or death of their own agents. The contingent of Texas Rangers was headed by Captain David Byrnes. The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas was also involved in several aspects of the situation in Waco. Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Bill Johnston assisted the ATF in the preparation of the initial warrants, and, during the evening of February 28, began working with the Texas Rangers to determine if there had been a "leak" of the ATF's plan. AUSA John Phinizy also assisted the ATF with the warrants and became the liaison between the FBI and the prosecutors. United States Attorney Ronald Ederer and his First Assistant, James DeAtley, also travelled to Waco to assist. Finally, AUSA Kelly Loving was assigned to handle matters relating to electronic surveillance, and AUSAs LeRoy Jahn, John Convery, and Joe Marshall were assigned to handle legal research. The prosecutors had the responsibility to preserve and develop evidence for the eventual prosecution of the Branch Davidians on the original weapons charges, as well as on homicide and assault charges resulting from the shoot-out on the 28th. Also, the prosecutors had to develop a legal strategy to separate those individuals who would be criminally charged from those individuals who were merely witnesses, and to ensure that all were either held in jail or released with sufficient guarantees to ensure their appearances at trial. During the early conversations, Koresh informed the negotiators that he had been wounded. He had been shot in the hip area with the bullet exiting the area of his upper buttocks. He had also been shot in the left wrist. On several occasions, the negotiators offered medical assistance, but Koresh refused all such offers. The negotiators knew that others had been wounded and were perhaps dead; however, Koresh refused to provide any detailed information. Koresh also refused to give the number of people in the compound, or their ages or identities. He also insisted in these early conversations on being called David Koresh, rather than Vernon Howell. At 2:29 p.m., Koresh demanded that he be able to broadcast his religious teachings over the radio before he, or any one, would come out of the compound. The negotiators agreed to the broadcast, and Koresh agreed to send the children out and to resolve the situation peacefully. The broadcast occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. over Dallas radio station KRLD. The message was re-broadcast two additional times before 5:00 p.m. At approximately 4:55 p.m., several ATF agents were ambushed by three individuals as the agents crossed a field near the compound. The ATF agents returned the gunfire, killing one individual and capturing another. The third individual escaped. The person who died was later identified (following the recovery of his body on March 3) as Michael Schroeder. The person arrested was Norman Washington Allison (a/k/a Delroy Nash), and the person who escaped was Robert Kendrick. Kendrick was arrested several days later. All three individuals were Branch Davidians who had been at another location called the "Mag Bag"(4) and were attempting to shoot their way into the compound. Negotiations continued all afternoon. At 6:14 p.m., Koresh broke off contact, demanding that his message be re-broadcast. This occurred a short while later, at approximately 7:38 p.m. At 7:55 p.m., the negotiators became very concerned that CNN was conducting a telephone interview with Koresh. The interview was broadcast on the 8:00 p.m. news. All the law enforcement officials believed strongly that allowing Koresh uncontrolled access to the news media was extremely detrimental to the negotiation process. The FBI contacted CNN and requested that it conduct no further interviews of persons inside the compound. CNN agreed at 8:25 p.m.(5) At 8:55 p.m. the first two children came out of the compound. They were Angelica Sonobe, age 6, and Crystal Sonobe, age 3. At 9:42 p.m., two more children came out. They were Renae Fagan, age 6, and Neharah Fagan, age 4. Negotiations continued with no additional progress that night.
During the early morning hours of March 1, FBI personnel continued to arrive in Waco to prepare for their eventual control of the situation. Although FBI personnel in Waco and in Washington, D.C. were making preparations to be the lead agency, no formal decision had yet been made at the Treasury Department. In a meeting held at Treasury at 9:30 a.m. EST, Ronald K. Noble, the Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Law Enforcement (designee), and Steve Higgins, the Director of the ATF, made the official decision to turn over the scene to the FBI. This decision was immediately relayed to the FBI in Waco, so that by 10:00 a.m. -- or 1 ½ hours later -- operational control had been effectively passed from the ATF SAC to the FBI SAC. Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson was given an update on the situation by an FBI supervisor at 7:30 a.m. eastern time. The Acting Attorney General then contacted President Clinton to give him an update, since the White House had expressed an interest in staying informed. The President told the Acting Attorney General that he understood the FBI's policy in such situations was to negotiate until the situation was resolved. The President also asked to be advised should there be any change in the strategy from a negotiated resolution to a tactical resolution. The Acting Attorney General relayed the President's instructions to Director Sessions shortly after 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. In a telephone conversation at 10:50 a.m., Assistant FBI Director Potts and SAC Jamar discussed the instructions from the President, and decided upon the rules of engagement that would govern the FBI's actions. It was decided that the FBI should avoid any exchange of gunfire with those in the compound, if at all possible. only if there was a threat of imminent bodily harm or death would the FBI return fire. The FBI's first priority was to take over the dangerous job of controlling the inner perimeter around the compound. This was to be handled by the HRT, which began arriving in Waco at approximately 11:25 a.m. The second priority was to centralize all negotiations. Since the previous day, there had been two separate channels of negotiations on two separate telephone lines. By 1:30 p.m., all telephone lines in the compound except for two were cut off. Those two lines could only dial out to the negotiators. By 4:45 p.m., the FBI command post was fully operational, negotiations were being handled by a highly trained team of agents, and FBI agents with armored vehicles were deploying to take over control of the compound's perimeter. Meanwhile, negotiations with individuals in the compound continued. Three different negotiators maintained contact with numerous individuals in the compound from 2:11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Overall, two FBI agents and one ATF agent, had sixty-three different conversations with approximately 15 individuals lasting a total of approximately seven hours. These negotiations, (or perhaps more accurately, conversations), were mainly with Steve Schneider and David Koresh, and focused mainly on the release of several children. During the course of the day, ten children were sent out of the compound. The names of these children and their ages are as follow:
Child Age Tamara Wende 5 Landon Wende 4 Jaunessa Wende 8 Patteon Wende 5 months Scott Mabb 11 Christyn Mabb 7 Jacob Mabb 9 Bryan Schroeder 3 Jamie Martin 10 Joshua Silvia 7 Negotiations took an ominous turn at approximately 5:50 p.m. when Koresh and Schneider realized that their telephone access to everyone except the negotiators had been cut off. The situation was further complicated by the fact that, at approximately 6:00 p.m., the FBI began to move in armored vehicles to help secure the inner perimeter. Koresh complained bitterly when he realized that his telephone lines had been restricted, permitting him to dial out only to the negotiators. At 5:52 p.m., Koresh warned that if the telephone lines were not immediately reopened, the government would be responsible for the deaths of the children. Koresh also threatened a fight if this was not done. The negotiators attempted to calm Koresh. At approximately 6:10 p.m., when the armored vehicles began moving closer, Koresh became even more agitated. He threatened to fight the agents if the vehicles came on the compound's property, and he threatened to retaliate if they came any closer. After many angry threats, and after repeated efforts of the negotiators to calm him down, Koresh finally calmed down and agreed to resume sending children out. At 8:27 p.m., Brian Schroeder and Jacob Mabb came out of the compound. At 11:05 p.m., Jaime Martin and Joshua Silvia came out. During the latter part of the evening, conversations between the FBI negotiators and those in the compound remained calm. During the conversations on March 1, Koresh stated on at least two occasions that suicide was not being contemplated by those inside the compound, and that he and the sect members needed to stay alive to deliver his (Koresh's) message to the world. As part of delivering his message, Koresh agreed that if a taped message of his was played nationwide, everyone, including Koresh himself, would come out. Buoyed by the low-key nature of the negotiations and Koresh's promise that everyone would come out peacefully as soon as the tape was played, the FBI began preparations for the tape to be played the next day on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and also began preparations to handle the large number of people expected to leave the compound.
March 2 was the day that many law enforcement officials believed the standoff would end. The United States Attorney's Office established procedures for processing the large number of individuals who were expected to exit the compound. Federal criminal charges were to be filed against some individuals, while the others would be held as material witnesses. The United States Magistrate Judge in Waco was notified, and was prepared to expedite the initial court appearances. The United States Marshals were also prepared to handle the large number of individuals who would be going into custody. At the scene, the FBI arranged for the initial processing of the individuals for identification, personal information, and other relevant information. The FBI also arranged for immediate on-site medical care for those in need. In short, everyone on the law enforcement side was prepared for a peaceful and orderly solution to a tense situation. The agreed-upon plan was that David Koresh would prepare an audiotape lasting approximately one hour. In this tape, Koresh preached about his special knowledge of the Bible, and his interpretation of the passages relating to the Seven Seals and the end of the world according to the Book of Revelations. This audiotape was to be broadcast nationwide over CBN sometime around noon or 1:00 p.m. once the tape was broadcast, Koresh agreed to come out peacefully with all of his followers. FBI negotiators remained in contact with Koresh and others inside the compound all night. At 1:12 a.m., Koresh re-confirmed the agreement and offered to send out two more children as a show of good faith. At 1:20 a.m. Natalie Nobrega, age 11, and Joan Vaega, age 7, came out of the compound. The total number of children released at this point was sixteen. All the children were allowed to call back into the compound to assure their parents that they were safe and being treated kindly. At 1:40 a.m.1 both radio station KRLD and CBN agreed to broadcast the tape. CBN agreed to broadcast the tape on the "America Talks" show, hosted by Craig Smith, which aired between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. As the night wore on, the negotiators continued to talk to Koresh mainly about the state of his health and the fact that he would have to face criminal charges when he left the compound. Koresh wanted to discuss potential criminal charges. Koresh clearly stated several times that he was willing to be judged by the law. Koresh also reiterated that suicide was not an option. Between approximately 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Koresh made the audiotape. At 7:58 a.m., Steve Schneider called the negotiators to inform them that the tape was ready, and said that two adults and two children would come out with the tape. At 8:10 a.m. Margaret Lawson, age 75, Catherine Matteson, age 77, Daniel Martin, age 6, and Kimberly Martin, age 7, all came out. Catherine Matteson was carrying the audiotape and turned it over to the FBI. Between 8:15 a.m. and 8:23 a.m., Koresh again discussed surrender plans. He told the negotiators that he was going to take a short nap and rest. Contact with Koresh ceased at 8:23 a.m. The audiotape Koresh made was approximately one hour long. CBN reiterated its agreement to broadcast the tape unedited; however, Craig Smith, the host of the show, made it clear to the FBI that the broadcast was contingent on Koresh's agreeing in advance to surrender immediately after the tape was played. At approximately 10:30 a.m., after listening to the tape, the FBI determined the tape was not satisfactory, because Koresh had failed to state clearly his intentions to surrender. At 11:24 a.m., the negotiators contacted Koresh to discuss the omission of any surrender language on the tape. Koresh agreed to read the following preamble on the telephone so that it could be recorded by the FBI on the audiotape to be broadcast: "I agree that upon the broadcasting of this tape, I will immediately come out peacefully with all my people." While the audiotape was being delivered to KRLD and CBN, the negotiators continued to talk to Koresh. At 11:39 a.m., Koresh gave the first indication of the approximate number of people in the compound. He stated that there were approximately 20 children, 40 to 50 women, and 45 to 50 men. Koresh agreed to perform a specific head-count and call back with the actual numbers. Contact with Koresh terminated at 11:49 a.m. At 12:39 p.m., the negotiators called back into the compound and spoke to Koresh's legal wife, Rachel Howell. Howell gave the first confirmed head-count as 43 men, 47 women, and 20 children. At 1:20 p.m., Koresh and the negotiators agreed that a stretcher would be dropped off by the FBI near the front door of the compound so that Koresh could be carried out. The stretcher was dropped off and carried inside by Steve Schneider and another man at 1:53 p.m. Meanwhile, at 1:30 p.m., the tape began to be broadcast over the radio. Between 1:30 p.m. and 2:47 p.m.., the negotiators worked out the logistics for the pending surrender with both Schneider and Koresh. It was agreed that Koresh would come out first on the stretcher carried by four males. Koresh was to be accompanied by an unknown number of women and children. Steve Schneider was to remain in the compound to coordinate the exit of the remaining individuals once the first group had been removed from the scene. The plan was that Schneider would send out one person approximately every two to three minutes. By 3:00 p.m., vehicles were in place to handle the movement of the people coming out, laboratory personnel were standing by to process the crime scene, and no additional problems were anticipated. Between 3:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., several individuals, including Koresh and Schneider,.spoke to the negotiators advising them that surrender was imminent and that people were in the process of saying goodbye to Koresh and to each other. At 4:47 p.m., the FBI was advised by an individual in the compound that Koresh was preaching to the group and leading them in prayer. Steve Schneider came on the line at 5:45 p.m. and, in an obvious attempt to delay, began to preach and read the Bible. At 5:52 p.m., the negotiators interrupted Schneider's preaching and demanded that they go forward with the plan to surrender. Schneider relayed this demand to Koresh, and at 5:58 p.m., he informed the negotiators that Koresh had said to tell them that God had spoken to him and had told him to wait. Schneider also claimed that Koresh was deep in thought and could not come to the telephone. Between 6:00 p.m. and midnight, the frustrated and disappointed negotiators continued to talk to Schneider, Koresh and others urging them to come out. However, all they received in return were rambling Biblical teachings, apologies for the delay, and Koresh's continued statements that God had instructed him to wait. Koresh claimed that he could do nothing further until receiving additional orders from God. Midnight found the FBI and everyone else in law enforcement waiting while Koresh and Schneider slept. According to one individual who left the compound during the standoff, there was never any plan to surrender on March 2. Instead, a number of individuals were to come outside with Koresh, who would be on the stretcher. After exiting, they would blow themselves up with some type of explosive device. Afterwards, all the remaining people inside would either be killed or would kill themselves. On the afternoon of March 1, everyone said goodbye to Koresh, then were sent to the chapel to pray. A short while later, according to the individual, Koresh cancelled the plan, claiming that they were not praying correctly and that God had told him to wait.
The early morning hours of March 3 began With both Koresh and Steve Schneider sleeping. At 3:00 a.m., the negotiators established contact with Schneider, and he informed them that there was no change in Koresh's plans to await further instructions from God. Nevertheless, the negotiators still attempted to work out the details of a surrender plan with Schneider. Also, during this conversation, the negotiators asked about the status of a number of individuals believed to be in the compound. Numerous inquiries had been made to the FBI and ATF from friends and relatives of those inside. Beginning in this conversation in the early morning hours of March 3, and continuing throughout the standoff, the negotiators relayed the inquiries from friends and relatives. Schneider agreed to check on the status of the named individuals and did, in fact, report back to the negotiators in a conversation at 6:00 a.m. that all were "10K." Schneider, and others, continued to respond favorably to the-negotiators' requests for information for family and friends throughout the duration of the standoff. At 7:30 a.m., pursuant to a federal search warrant, authorities searched the "Mag Bag." In an early morning news broadcast, CNN reported that the two elderly women released the day before were to be charged with attempted murder. This news broadcast was seen by those in the compound and caused a great deal of mistrust and apprehension. The negotiators were concerned about the potentially adverse effect that this would have on those planning to come out. Therefore, in a conversation with Schneider beginning at 9:45 a.m., the negotiators promised to determine what was actually happening with the two women. The story was true. A decision had been made by the U.S. Attorney's office, after consultation with at least one FBI supervisor, that the two women would be charged with attempted murder, and that the district court would be requested to hold the women in jail without bail. The FBI contacted the U.S. Attorney and convinced him that such a move would be detrimental to negotiations. Thereafter, the two women were held only as material witnesses. Schneider was advised of this change in the women's status in a conversation with negotiators occurring at noon. Attempting to lessen the mistrust, the negotiators told Schneider that they (the FBI) had been able to get the murder charges dropped. This seemed to allay the concerns of Schneider and others inside the compound. At 12:41 p.m., pursuant to a request from the negotiators transmitted through Schneider, Koresh came on the line. Koresh immediately began a long and rambling "sermon" which lasted until 1:34 p.m. During this "sermon," Koresh refused to accept any responsibility for his failure to abide by the surrender agreement. He stated that he was "dealing now with his father" and not with "your bureaucratic system of government." Comparing himself to Martin Luther, who he stated also had heretical ideas, Koresh made it very clear that he fully intended to keep his word and surrender as soon as God told him that it was time. Additionally, Koresh repeatedly asked to speak to an ATF undercover agent, Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez had gone into the compound numerous times prior to the warrants to gain information. Rodriguez had claimed to have had an interest in Koresh's teachings. Koresh and others often repeated this request to speak to Rodriguez throughout the standoff; however, it was always denied. Finally, at the end of the conversation, Koresh agreed to release one more child and nine puppies. At 1:50 p.m., the body of Michael Schroeder was recovered by agents in a wooded area near the compound. Schroeder had been shot by ATF agents on February 28 when he and two other individuals ambushed the agents. A handgun was also discovered with the body. In a conversation with negotiators beginning at 2:45 p.m., Koresh agreed to send Mark Anthony Jones, age 12, out of the compound as soon as Koresh completed his "Bible study" with the negotiators. Koresh launched into his monologue at 2:48 p.m., and continued without interruption until 3:51 p.m. This "Bible study," as with Koresh's other preaching and sermonizing, rambled and made little sense, except perhaps to his followers. As always, the focus was on "unlocking" the Seven Seals and interpreting God's intentions about the end of the world. At the end of the "Bible study," at 4:26 p.m., the child came out of the compound with a bag containing the puppies. From the beginning of the negotiations with Koresh, the FBI had always expressed concern about his injuries and his state of health. on March 3, the negotiators had several conversations with a nurse in the compound, who reported that Koresh's condition was satisfactory. She confirmed that he had been shot in the lower left abdomen and in the wrist. She reported that his temperature was normal, color good, and that he was taking no medications. The nurse also described Judy Schneider's wounds to her right shoulder and right finger, and Scott Sonobels "slight" wound to his leg. According to the nurse, the condition of both of these individuals was satisfactory. Judy Schneider was the legal wife of Steve Schneider, in addition to being one of Koresh's wives. During the conversations with Steve Schneider, which occurred off and on throughout the day and night, the negotiators attempted to convince him to take a leadership role and to bring the people out himself. Schneider appeared to be conciliatory and even stated that he was personally embarrassed that the agreement to surrender had not been followed. Nevertheless, Schneider steadfastly refused to assume leadership and stated repeatedly that nothing would happen until Koresh received further instructions from God. In the final conversation of the evening Koresh "preached" from 9:40 p.m. until 1:40 a.m. During this monologue, Koresh expressed his great anger at the movement of the armored vehicles around the compound, and told the negotiator that the FBI would have to "bear the responsibility for the loss of innocent lives" and would have to "look at some of the pictures of the little ones that ended up perishing" because of its actions.
When Koresh finished preaching at 1:40 a.m., he told the negotiator to call back between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Koresh said he would send Kevin Jones, age 11, out of the compound. Meanwhile, at 1:25 a.m., Wayne Martin, an attorney inside the compound, called the negotiators on the second telephone line. Martin was very angry and militant. He stated that America's political system was in decay and in conflict with God's law, and that Koresh had been chosen by God as "the Lamb" to rule over his kingdom on earth. Martin claimed that America and the world were witnessing the birth of a new nation founded on the Seven Seals. Despite repeated questioning from the negotiators, Martin refused to comment on whether the people in the compound would remain alive, or whether additional children would be released. This conversation ended at 3:12 a.m. Martin called back at 5:55 a.m., warning that the authorities were the enemies of the Seven Seals, and threatening that they would go to hell if they caused "aggression." At 7:25 a.m., Kevin Jones was released from the compound. [Material redacted as required by statute.] At 11:45 a.m., SAC Jamar complained to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. that CNN's use of night vision equipment during its news broadcasts had revealed the movements and locations of HRT members. This placed the HRT at greater risk, because the Branch Davidians watched these broadcasts. FBI Director Sessions called the President of CNN, who agreed to stop broadcasting pictures made with night vision equipment. Because of the FBI's concern that the movement of Branch Davidians in and around the compound might trigger a gunfight, a "statement regarding safety" was drafted and read to Koresh at 2:53 p.m. This statement read as follows: Rules For Your Safety: No one will be allowed to exit the building with a weapon. We tell you this for your own protection -- for if our agents perceive that their lives or the life of someone else is at risk they will take appropriate action to ensure their own safety. No one will be allowed to aim a weapon from a window as this may also be perceived by our agents as a threat to their lives to the life of others and compel them to act accordingly. Any time you exit the building, and are approaching our agents, you must fully comply with any verbal instruction to avoid exposing yourself to potential risk. The negotiators were in contact with numerous individuals in the compound throughout the day and night. There were approximately eleven hours of conversations, and Koresh participated in 7 hours and 38 minutes. During these mostly one-sided conversations, Koresh threatened the FBI, discussed the events of February 28, preached for hours, discussed his eventual punishment and the death penalty, and explained his "miraculous meeting" with God in 1985. Koresh also agreed to send out another child, Heather Jones, age 9, in the morning. Excerpts from these conversations serve to highlight the difficulty faced by the negotiators when dealing with Koresh. All of the quotes below are from Koresh:
"Some guys think they're sneaking up and stuff like that, and they end up getting a bullet in their butt . . . and it's unnecessary."
"What happens when . . . this all gets heated and you get somebody and these cars go flying, you know, 40, 50 feet in the air out towards the lake?"
"The Bible says David was a man after God's own heart. But, now, wait a minute. God doesn't commit adultery, does he? No. And if he ever did, he doesn't anymore. But remember, man knows good and evil. Well, wait a minute. Then why would the scriptures say David was a man after God's own heart? Well, this is the position that I'm in right now, to help you understand where I'm coming from, you see. You know, I may act -- okay. I'm, I'm -- well, I'm going -- when we come out, we're going to be punished. See, I know that. Because,, you know, as it appears by all means, we've done wrong."
"[W]e have to keep our eyes single to the glory of God, because, you know, y1all more or less have a harder time to realize that I am taking orders, you see, and that, and that my boss is making decisions on whether to pounce you or not. You know, I mean, you know, and I don't want my boss to pounce you because you don't understand me and I don't think -- and this is honestly between myself and God -- I don't think that by myself being human I don't think that I have done a good enough job or that I have done everything that I can possibly do at the present to try to, to, to inform you clearly what the issues are from our side."
After being informed by the negotiator that the armored vehicles would be moving for a shift change, Koresh engaged in the following conversation:
KORESH: 'Cause if something messes up on this side or on your side, then World War III again.
FBI: No, we don't need that.
KORESH: You know what I mean?
FBI: We do not need that.
KORESH: I know. It's crazy. Let's, let's let, let's let's, let's look at these passages of scripture I've been sharing with you --
KORESH: -- and I wish your other agents, they would look at them and, and, you know, take a look at them, and, uh, you know, it would be so awesome if everyone could just sit down and have --
FBI: I know.
KORESH: -- one honest Bible study in this great nation of America.
FBI: Well --
KORESH: You know, America does not have to be humiliated or destroyed.
As an example of Koresh's rambling style of preaching, the following excerpt from 10:00 p.m. is typical:
KORESH: Zachariah said he saw a candle, a lamp with seven, with seven lamps. And there's two witnesses by two olive trees, right?
KORESH: . . . Now, we know that Christ is the light of the world according to the New Testament. That's already been made plain for us. And we know in the mount of transfiguration the kingdom of God deals with Christ standing on the mount, Moses and Elijah standing by him, and they all three are one.
KORESH: They've got one work to do, and that's to save souls with the word of God.
KORESH: Okay. So, so, when it comes down to this final revelation when, when, when God sends his Son into the world to reveal the Seven Seals, then all the sons of God are going to want to learn the Seven Seals, aren't they?
KORESH: Okay. So, the thing of it is -- but man, whose carnal in -- remember, wisdom says she hates pride and arrogancy and carnality? She says now, I've built my house, I've hewn my seven pillars? You know, we know that wisdom built Christ. Let me explain. And wisdom builds everybody. Now, here is, here is the clincher to it. It says here: for the kingdoms of this world becomes the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever. And the four-and twenty elders which sit before God on their seats fell down upon their faces and worshipped God, saying we give Thee thanks, oh, Lord, God Almighty, which art and was and are to come, because Thou has taken a great power in his reign which this is where God has to intervene. For the nations were angry -- which is like Psalms 2, the heathen raged -- and Thy wrath has come -which the Sixth Seal went -- what's going to happen is that the sum of the stars are going to be dark and all the natural elements of light and the heaven is going to part and everyone in this world is going to get to look up and see something they never seen before, something I was already shown. But, of course, what happens is that I'm supposed to show it through a book. And then what happens is they're going to realize that, that, uh -- see, all I've ever wanted out of my life is peace. So, God uses the weak and he uses the, the ones who try to seek peace, the ones who do not want violence and all that, he, he, he strengthens them like in Psalms 18 to overthrow the proud and the arrogant. It"s a sad thing. We don't want it to happen, and that's what's a lot of things happening right now. And Thy wrath has come and the time of the dead that they should be judged, that Thou shouldest give reward to Thy servants, the prophets, and to Thy sayings, those that were sanctified by the prophets, knowing their truth, to them that fear Thy name, small and great, and shall destroy them which destroy the earth. God doesn't like the way our economic system is doing to our world today. And the temple of God -- now, watch this. This is, this is awesome -- remember wisdom said those who find me find life?
KORESH: They shall obtain the favor of the Lord? Now, watch this. And the temple of God was opened in heaven. See, this is the -- this is, this is the, the thing that causes the sin against the Holy Ghost. Now, watch. Now, the temple of God was opened where? In heaven. And there was seen in this temple the ark of his testament -- which is what Moses made a model of, right?
During all of these conversations, the negotiators remained calm and conciliatory, and kept pressing for the release of more children. They also constantly complimented Koresh on his understanding of the Bible, and urged him to come out so that he could preach his message to the world. Koresh, for the most part, kept up his efforts to convert the negotiators to his religion.
This day began on an upbeat note when Heather Jones, age 9, was released at 8:39 a.m. However, this event had to be balanced against the notification from the Methodist Children's Home that Joan Vaega, who had been released on March 2, had a note pinned to her jacket. The note was from Joan's mother to Joan's older sister Ursula in Hawaii. It stated that by the time Ursula read the note-1 she (the mother) would be dead, and that once the children were out, the adults were going to die. The FBI had been concerned from the outset about the possibility that those inside the compound might commit suicide. For this reason, the negotiators asked Koresh and Schneider on numerous occasions whether they were contemplating suicide, and whether everyone was going to come out of the compound alive. Both Koresh and Schneider always assured the negotiators that suicide was not an option, and that everyone was going to come out. During the entire course of the standoff, the FBI sought the advice of experts on the issue of suicide. They also sought the advice of former and present Branch Davidians. Unfortunately, the FBI received inconsistent information about the likelihood of suicide, the effect of which was to leave the FBI with no choice but to speak directly to Koresh, to determine whether suicide would occur. At 9:45 a.m., the FBI learned from local water supply officials that the compound had its own separate water supply that could not be shut off. The water came from a well with an electric pump. Therefore, unless the pump could be shut down, their water supply was limitless. The Davidians also, according to information obtained by the FBI, had extensive supplies of food, including canned goods and military-style MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). It was believed that these supplies could last for up to one year. Witnesses told the FBI and Texas Rangers that the Branch Davidians had purchased literally thousands of surplus MREs. In a conversation at 11:59 a.m., Koresh admitted that he and his followers had been preparing for battle with the authorities since 1985, and he threatened to "blow the tanks to pieces." In the same conversation the FBI offered, and Koresh accepted, a suture kit to treat his wounds, a videotape of the children who had been released, and photographs of the children for the parents who had remained in the compound. These items were delivered to the front door of the compound at 12:50 p.m. Part of the FBI's negotiation strategy was to play on parental feelings for the children, and hopefully hasten the exit of the parents. Koresh continued to alternate between preaching to the negotiators and threatening violence for most of the afternoon. Koresh firmly maintained that he could not come out until ordered to do so by God. At 5:22 p.m., when questioned about additional children coming out, Koresh stated for the first time that "We're dealing with some of my children" and that "my children that I have are different than the other children." This was the first indication that Koresh might not allow children he considered to be his to leave. At 5:53 p.m. Schneider informed the negotiators that Peter Gent's body had been found at the edge of the building within the compound. Gent had been shot and killed, presumably by the ATF, during the initial shootout on February 28. Schneider wanted to remove the body and give it to the FBI; however, the negotiators refused this request unless two persons, who would remain outside, accompanied the body. Koresh refused to allow this; therefore, Peter Gent's body remained on the grounds. The evening ended with Koresh criticizing the negotiators about their lack of knowledge of the Seven Seals, and Schneider's continuing declarations of full support for Koresh.
In a conversation that began before midnight, the negotiators spoke to Steve Schneider until approximately 2:00 a.m. The conversation ranged from a discussion of the scriptures, to the burial of Peter Gent's body, to Schneider's claims that those inside the compound were not afraid of the FBI. During this conversation, Schneider made a somewhat cryptic remark about the likelihood that the FBI (or ATF) would burn down the compound in order to destroy evidence. Schneider (SS) stated to the FBI negotiator: SS: [W]hen this is all said and done, if, if you people don't burn the building down or whatever you would plan on doing . . . FBI: We just plan on waiting for people to come out. SS: I really -- I'll tell you the truth. I -- it wouldn't surprise me that they wouldn't want to get rid of the evidence. Because if this building is left standing, you will see the evidences of what took place. Schneider also stated that the two main concerns of those inside the compound were the lack of communication with the media, and the presence of the armed vehicles on their property. He repeated these concerns in a further conversation between 7:55 a.m. and 8:49 a.m. As to Schneider's first concern, the negotiators informed him and Koresh on numerous occasions that they would have access to the media only when they came out of the compound. As to the second concern, the FBI offered, in a conversation occurring at 4:12 p.m., to pull back the armored vehicles if four people came out immediately, and if Koresh agreed to surrender. Koresh refused this offer and reiterated that no one would come out until God told them to. At 4:35 p.m., Koresh agreed to send out Melissa Morrison, age 6, if the negotiators would put the ATF undercover agent, Robert Rodriguez, on the phone with Koresh. The negotiators told Koresh that Rodriguez was not in Waco; however, they agreed to deliver a message to him. Koresh did not respond and turned the phone over to Schneider who put Rose Morrison, the child's mother, on the line.. Ms. Morrison initially agreed to send Melissa out, but reneged and said that Koresh would have to speak to Rodriguez first. An impasse was reached between the parties at this point. Later, at 8:07 p.m., the negotiators offered to deliver a videotape to Rodriguez if Koresh wanted to record a message. This offer was also refused. After this effort, neither Koresh, Schneider, nor Rose Morrison ever mentioned sending Melissa out. Although she was probably one of the children who died in the April 19 fire, he r body has not yet been identified. Koresh and Schneider were both highly agitated and upset for most of March 6. The FBI became increasingly concerned as the day wore on that an overall impasse had been reached. In an attempt to break this impasse, the negotiators called Koresh at 8:25 p.m. Koresh immediately began preaching and refused to discuss any matters of substance. His preaching lasted until 10:43 p.m. It was during these preachings that Koresh claimed for the first time that he was "Christ." At 9:37 p.m. the following exchange took place between Koresh and the FBI negotiator:
FBI: Who did you tell me you were?
KORESH: If God sits on the throne, if he gave the book to the Lamb --
KORESH: You know who I am. And you know who I claim that I am.
FBI: And you claim that you're the Lord.
KORESH: I am Christ.
FBI: Well, you didn't say that. You said you claimed to be the Lord.
KORESH: Christ is the same as the Lord. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Prince of the Kings of the earth. Yep. What can I say? Shall I lie? No, I will not lie. And, as I said before, my father sits on a throne and he said to wait. And you're being judged. . .
The following exchange from March 6 demonstrates the FBI's frustration in attempting to negotiate with Koresh:
KORESH: They shall make haste to the wall thereof and the defense shall be prepared, and the gates of the rivers shall be opened and the palace shall be dissolved. Now, we're getting to the real weird aspect. And Hazab shall be led away captive. She shall be brought up and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves. Hooo, hooo, hooo, hoh. Tabern (phonetic) upon their breasts. But Nineveh is of old, like a pool of water stagnant. And they shall flee away. Stand, stand shall they cry, but none shall look back. Someone at that point is told to take ye the spoil of silver. Take the spoil of gold for there's none end of the store and the glory out of all the pleasant furniture. She's empty, void and waste, the heart melted, the, the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins and all faces of them shall get a blackness. Where is the dwelling of the lions -- these tough guys, huh? The feeding place of the young lions -- they thought their sons were going to rule, huh? Where is the lion? Even the old lion walked, and the lion's weapon, none made them afraid. Man, they thought they were so powerful, didn't they? The lion did tear in' pieces enough for his whelps and strangled for his lioness and filled his holes with prey and his dens with raven. I understand. It's just a job to keep yourself going, right? All these guys out here are just making a living, aren't they? Behold I'm against thee, said the Lord of hosts. And I will burn her chariots in the smoke and the sword shall devour her young lions. And I will cut off thy prey from the earth and the voice of they messengers shall be no more heard. That's what you're doing. You're giving me a message, right? We've had --
FBI: I think you --
KORESH: -- several of them.
FBI: I think you're trying to give me a message, aren't you, David?
KORESH: Well, I'm saying y1all keep negotiating with us and stuff. But woe to the bloody city.
The early morning hours began with Koresh on the telephone at 12:11 a.m. During this entire conversation, which lasted until 3:15 a.m., the negotiators urged Koresh and his followers to leave peacefully. Koresh, in turn preached, claimed on numerous occasions that he was "Christ" and the "Lord," and stressed that everyone in the compound was remaining inside pursuant to their own free will. The negotiators noted at 12:45 a.m. that Koresh's delivery of religious rhetoric was so strong that they could hardly interrupt him to discuss possible surrender. For the remainder of March 7, virtually everyone in the compound who spoke to FBI negotiators expressed their anger and frustration. There were 42 separate conversations which lasted approximately twelve hours. The two main concerns of the Branch Davidians on that day were the FBI's delay in delivering milk for the children, and the denial of direct access to the media. Concerning the milk, the FBI had offered milk in return for the release of some children. This offer was rejected by Schneider and Koresh at 9:12 a.m. Afterwards, four different individuals came on the line and complained bitterly about the milk. These individuals also confirmed that they did not want to come out. Conversations were held with Schneider and Koresh between 12:23 p.m. and 12:51 p.m., and again between 2:48 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. To the entreaties of the negotiators, Schneider, Koresh, and Wayne Martin threatened, preached, and refused to agree to anything. Koresh stressed several times during these conversations that only he knew the secret of the Seven Seals, and that he would refuse to listen to anyone who did not know as much as he. Koresh asserted that, if negotiators or some preachers could prove to him that he was wrong about the Seven Seals, he would surrender. However, on the other hand, Koresh declared that, if he were right about the Seven Seals, "you're mine!" At 6:11 p,.m., after speaking to several other individuals, the negotiators spoke once again with Koresh. In this conversation Koresh refused to consider sending more children out:
KORESH: "You're dealing with my biological children now.
FBI: Why do you say that?
KORESH: Because that's what we've come down to."
Later in the conversation, after additional threats by Koresh, the FBI negotiator said:
FBI: Do you, do you really think we're going to start firing indiscriminately up at that place? [i.e., the compound]
KORESH: I sure hope so.
The evening ended with continuing conversations but no progress.
On March 8, there were only 38 conversations for a total of approximately four hours. The few notable events and conversations are as follows. 11:04 a.m. to Three men left the compound 12:45 p.m. and buried the body of Peter Gent. 12:418 p.m. The nurse advised FBI that Koresh's wounds were healing nicely. 1:37 p.m. David Koresh reconfirmed:"I am not going to commit suicide." 3:50 p.m. FBI delivered six gallons of milk to the compound. 6:07 p.m. Koresh and Schneider sent out a videotape showing Koresh's wounds and several children. 10:25 p.m. Tapes from family members were played over the telephone to several individuals in the compound.
Shortly after midnight on March 9, the negotiators tried to drive a wedge between Schneider and Koresh. They prodded and challenged Schneider about Koresh's claim that Schneider's wife, Judy, was also one of Koresh's wives, and that Koresh claimed to have had a child with Judy. This effort failed with Schneider professing total loyalty to Koresh. In an effort to increase the pressure on the individuals by attempting to make their living conditions a little less bearable, the electricity to the compound was cut at 2:15 a.m.' At 9:20 a.m., Koresh stated through Schneider that he would not talk further until the power was restored. At 9:54 a.m., Schneider expressed outrage over the movement of the armored vehicles around the compound, and the degree of property damage that they were causing. Schneider threatened that "we can take you out!" At 10:28 a.m., the power to the compound was restored in order to allow those inside the compound to watch the televised news conference 10:30 a.m. and to encourage some progress in the discussions. At various times throughout the day, HRT members observed weapons in the windows, and firing ports being cut in the plywood which had been placed over most of the windows in the compound. At 2:04 p.m., the FBI delivered a videotape to the compound showing that the children who had been released were healthy, happy, and being well cared for. At 3:40 p.m., the Branch Davidians placed a sign on the outside of the tower stating "God help us, we want the press." A short while later, one law enforcement official observed a sign in the press area, known as "satellite city," which stated "God help us, we are the press." At 3:48 p.m., Schneider informed the negotiators that they were unhappy about the videotape of the released children since the children appeared to be behaving badly. At 5:22,p.m., negotiators talked to Judy Schneider about the bullet wound to her finger. She was feeling ill because her finger had swollen to twice its size. She was urged to come out and obtain medical help; she refused. At 8:54 p.m., another videotape-was sent out from the compound. This tape depicted approximately 29 individuals who all stated they were voluntarily remaining inside the compound, and that they did not want to come out.
Due to the stalemate, the electricity was cut once again at 2:28 a.m. During the course of the day, numerous individuals came out of the compound, walked around, then went back inside. it appeared from these actions that they were attempting to test the resolve of the agents, since the FBI had warned people not to come outside without first obtaining advance permission. The electrical power was restored to the compound at 10:15 a.m. for the same reason as the day before. . The FBI sent in a second videotape at 1:06 p.m. This videotape contained a number of the negotiators personally pleading for a peaceful resolution. At 9:40 p.m., the FBI learned from the U.S. Attorney's Office that local reporters had made statements to others admitting that they had illegally intercepted the cellular telephone communications of law enforcement officials. The day ended with only 4 ½ hours of attempted negotiations and no progress.
March 11 began on a hopeful note when Steve Schneider advised negotiators at 12:54 a.m. that three or more individuals might come out on the next day. At 4:01 a.m., Kathy Schroeder called the negotiators to inform them that she was one of the individuals who would exit the next morning. Schroeder had previously sent her children out, and had lost her husband, Michael, in the second gunfight on the afternoon of February 28. At 6:05 a.m., the negotiators noted that there had been no direct contact with Koresh for the past 24 hours. However, contact with Steve Schneider was continuing. At 10:16 a.m., the negotiators determined that they had spoken to a total of 50 people inside the compound. Beginning at 11:00 a.m., and lasting throughout the day, the FBI sought to determine from Schneider and others if Koresh's failure to come to the telephone was due to failing health. No definitive information was obtained. At 4:14 p.m., Schneider told the negotiators that the next day, March 12, Kathy Schroeder, Kevin Whitecliff, Brad Branch, and Oliver Gyarfas would exit the compound. In the same conversation at 4:21 p.m., Schneider mentioned that Koresh was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio and that Harvey described a "shooting star" called the "guitar nebula." Schneider said that "David takes it as a sign." The FBI became hopeful that this might be the sign from God that Koresh had been waiting for since March 2. In a conversation with Koresh at 7:03 p.m., he denied that the "guitar nebula" was the sign that he was looking for. However, Koresh would discuss the importance of the "guitar nebula" in subsequent conversations. Conversations with Koresh, Schneider, and Kathy Schroeder continued until approximately 11:15 p.m. with the only progress being Schroeder's promise to come out the next day.
Janet Reno was sworn in as Attorney General of the United States in a ceremony at the White House. Nothing of significance occurred at the compound until Kathy Schroeder left the compound at 10:41 a.m. At 11:50 a.m., Schroeder was interviewed and stated that there was no plan inside the compound for suicide. She assured the FBI that suicide would not occur. In a conversation with Steve Schneider at 11:30 a.m., he indicated that, if lawyers or the press were allowed to enter the compound and speak to the individuals inside, matters might be expedited. Between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m., there were attempts to call into the compound to allow Kathy Schroeder to assure those inside that she was being fairly treated. There was no answer to these calls. Schroeder also told the FBI that there were people inside who wanted to come out; however, Koresh had a "hold" on them. She stated that many people would leave if Koresh told them to; however, he refused to do so. The negotiators made over two dozen attempts to call into the compound between noon and 5:00 p.m., but there was no answer. Schneider called at 5:04 p.m. and suggested that there was a technical problem with the telephones. The negotiators agreed to work on any problems with the telephones; however, they discovered no technical problems whatsoever. At 6:00 p.m., Oliver Gyarfas exited the compound. At 7:25 p.m., the negotiators called into the compound with Dr. John Hagman standing by. Dr. Hagman was brought in to give advice to the wounded individuals inside the compound. First, he spoke to Scott Sonobe about the wounds to his wrist and thigh. Dr. Hagman strongly suggested that Sonobe come out for medical treatment; however, he refused. At 7:40 p.m., the doctor spoke to Judy Schneider about her wounds. He gave her the same advice, and she also refused. At 8:44 p.m., Schneider advised the negotiators that no one else would come out that day; however, he promised that Brad Branch, Kevin Whitecliff, and Rita Riddle would come out the next day. At 9:20 p.m., a videotape was sent into the compound showing Kathy Schroeder's emotional reunion with her three-year old son, Bryan. The FBI hoped that the video might induce others to reunite with their children. [Material redacted as required by statute]. At 11:07 p.m., SAC Jamar ordered that the electrical power be shut off once again in an attempt to demonstrate that the FBI controlled their "earthly" lives rather than Koresh. The power was never turned back on for the duration of the standoff. Schneider and Koresh immediately became outraged and complained that the termination of electrical power was an act of bad faith. They threatened to terminate all contact with the negotiators if power were not restored. Some members of the FBI negotiation team disagreed with SAC Jamar's actions. They believed that certain tactical decisions, such as cutting the electricity, were counter-productive and undercut their credibility with those in the compound. However, in interviews with all the negotiators subsequent to the events of April 19, none believed, in hindsight, that this action had any effect on the ultimate outcome. The evening ended with Koresh and Schneider still angry and complaining.
Between midnight and 8:30 a.m., the negotiators had two conversations with Steve Schneider. Schneider, still very angry about the electricity having been turned off, stated that three people had been prepared to come out; however, he did not think that would happen now. Schneider also complained that the people were cold and freezing inside the compound. The negotiators placed the blame on "their bosses" and urged Schneider to continue to work with them. In a conversation at 8:55 a.m., Schneider once again claimed that the government wanted to kill all of them and burn down the building. At 11:35 a.m., the FBI negotiation team discussed the fact that letters had been sent from two attorneys claiming to represent Koresh and Schneider. These attorneys were Richard DeGuerin and Jack Zimmerman. It was decided not to allow the attorneys to speak to Koresh and Schneider at that time, since neither of them had requested an attorney. Nevertheless at 12:44 p.m., the negotiators advised Schneider that his sister had retained an attorney for him. At 1:24 p.m., the negotiators offered to allow Judy Schneider to come out, receive medical care for her wounds, then return to the compound. In return, the FBI asked for the exit of three individuals. This offer was rejected at 2:30 p.m. [Material redacted as required by statute.]
Since the previous evening, the FBI had decided not to call into the compound. Instead, the negotiators decided to await a call from the inside. Nevertheless, at'12:34 p.m., Oliver Gyarfas was allowed to call into the compound to tell Koresh and others that he was being treated fairly by authorities. At 1:03 p.m., Kathy Schroeder called into the compound with a similar message. Both Koresh and Schneider expressed anger at her for not being a "spokesperson" for them. The last conversation with Schneider ended at 4:19 p.m. The negotiators, according to plan, did not call the compound for the remainder of the evening, nor did anyone inside call out, At nightfall, the FBI began to illuminate the compound with bright lights to disrupt sleep, to put additional pressure on those inside, and to increase the safety of the HRT.
There was no contact with the compound during the pre-dawn hours of March 15. Bright lights remained focused on the compound; however, no other actions were taken by the FBI. The FBI established a modified negotiation strategy, in which the negotiators would be firm, would continue to insist on a peaceful resolution, but would refuse to listen to any more of what they called "Bible babble". [Material redacted as required by statute.] Meanwhile, at 2:05 p.m., the negotiators called into the compound and suggested that Schneider come out of the compound and meet them face-to-face. Between 4:23 p.m. and 5:28 p.m., Schneider and Wayne Martin came out of the compound and met with SSRA Byron Sage and McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell. In what the negotiators termed a "cordial and positive" meeting, the two sides agreed that negotiations would continue. Schneider also told negotiators that God had told Koresh to stay but that the others could leave any time they wanted. SSRA Sage and Sheriff Harwell were also able to defuse many issues of concern, such as the Davidians' right to counsel, the availability of medical attention, and the preservation of the crime scene. [Material redacted as required by statute.]
On March 16, there were only 46 minutes of conversations between the FBI and those in the compound. In what were basically general conversations, the negotiators requested a second face-to-face meeting with Schneider, but -- apparently under the negative influence of Koresh -- he refused. At 4:41 p.m., the FBI dropped off five audiotapes from relatives of those inside the compound. These audiotapes were prepared in coordination with the negotiators, were positive and upbeat in tone, and urged the family members inside to surrender peacefully. Nothing further of substance happened that evening.
The negotiators contacted Steve Schneider at 10:15 a.m., and once again urged a face-to-face meeting. Schneider refused and only wanted to discuss the Bible and his anger with ATF. The negotiators decided at 1:20 p.m. to broadcast audiotapes over the public address system, which the FBI had set up outside the compound. The audiotapes were of those who had exited the compound, and contained positive comments about their treatment by law enforcement. At 1:37 p.m., SSRA Sage, one of the FBI's principal negotiators, called Koresh and firmly urged him to surrender. In a conversation lasting until 2:39 p.m., Sage urged some type of positive action on Koresh's part and challenged his sincerity. Koresh refused totally to take any action and generally avoided discussing any specifics of a peaceful resolution. In a conversation with Schneider at 4:16 p.m., SSRA Sage took the same approach that he had previously taken with Koresh. Sage told Schneider that his (Sagels) statements to Koresh had "fallen on deaf ears" and that progress had to be made. Schneider was repeatedly urged to take responsibility for getting some people to leave. Schneider claimed, however, that no one wanted to come out. All preferred to wait. The conversation ended at 4:49 p.m. with no progress. The audiotapes from relatives were broadcast once again over the loudspeakers at the end of this conversation with Schneider. Between 9:10 p.m. and 11:10 p.m., negotiators spoke with seven individuals inside urging them to take some positive action; however, there were no agreements and no progress.
Numerous conversations occurred between the negotiators and Schneider between 6:30 a.m. and 12:55 p.m. During these conversations, Schneider made it very clear that no individuals would be coming out and that there was nothing that the FBI could offer in exchange which would have any effect. At 1:34 p:m., SSRA Sage began to speak to those inside the compound over the loudspeaker system in an attempt to communicate directly with everyone, and to urge everyone to come out. Sage told them that they would be treated fairly, that they were free to come out, and that transportation and medical care were available. SSRA Sage broadcasted again at 5:00 p.m. Sage also played a tape over the loudspeaker of his March 17 confrontational conversation with Koresh. At 6:21 p.m., after Schneider was warned in advance by negotiators, the HRT used the armored vehicles to remove the compound's diesel and gasoline storage tanks. No progress was made during the remainder of the evening.
In a conversation with negotiators at 8:30 a.m., Koresh once again stressed that they were not going to commit suicide and that more time was needed for them to come out. At 9:45 a.m., the FBI delivered a package of documents to the compound which contained letters from attorneys for Koresh, Schneider, and two others, copies of legal documents concerning the ATF warrants, a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office guaranteeing it would not seek forfeiture of the compound, an audio tape prepared by a theologian, a letter from the Christian Broadcasting Network, and several magazine articles. This delivery was the culmination of numerous hours of discussions between Schneider and the negotiators, and it was an attempt to address some of their concerns. At 11:10 a.m., SSRA Sage broadcasted over the loudspeakers that the package of documents had been dropped off. He also replayed the March 17 tape of his conversation with Koresh. At 11:18 a.m., Schneider called the negotiators and stated that the package of documents would have a positive effect. In a conversation with SSRA Sage at 1:55 p.m., Schneider stated that some people would come out as early as the next day. In a conversation lasting from 1:59 p.m. to 2:44 p.m., Koresh told negotiators that some people were going to come out, and that eventually everyone would. Koresh also discussed the "guitar nebula" and how he had predicted its presence in the universe. Koresh professed to be astounded by the "guitar nebula" and attempted to relate it to his preachings. Koresh also stated that he was ready to come out and face whatever might happen to him. In referring to the possibility that he might face the death penalty, Koresh even joked: "when they give me the lethal injection, give me the cheap stuff, huh?" At 7:15 p.m., Brad Branch and Kevin Whitecliff exited the compound. These two men were the only individuals to exit, along with Rita Riddle who exited on the next day [material redacted as required by statute]. At 8:03 p.m., Schneider called the negotiators to discuss the two men who had just come out. In this conversation, Schneider relayed a message from Koresh that his sign, the "guitar nebula," was coming faster through space now. Conversations continued with Schneider and Koresh until after midnight. There was much preaching by Koresh; however, he did state that he and the others were not going to stay inside much longer.
In interviews with FBI negotiators during the early morning hours, Brad Branch and Kevin Whitecliff stated that Koresh had a case of scotch whisky in the compound. The negotiators suspected that Branch and Whitecliff were expelled from the compound for drinking Koresh's scotch. In conversations occurring all morning and lasting into the early afternoon, Schneider confirmed that everyone, or at least a large group, would be coming out soon. Branch and Whitecliff were held in jail as material witnesses. The FBI permitted them to speak by telephone to Koresh from 6:33 p.m. to 7:27 p.m. Schneider indicated in conversations between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., that two women, Victorine Hollingsworth, age 59, and Annetta Richards, age 63, might come out shortly.
At 12:15 a.m., Victorine Hollingsworth and Annetta Richards exited the compound. A conversation began with David Koresh at 12:15 a.m. and continued until 3:12 a.m. For most of this time, Koresh simply engaged in rambling religious discussions; however, at 2:13 a.m., he told negotiators that: " I told you that my God says wait. Actually I asked for it." A short while later, at 2:19 a.m., the negotiator asked Koresh to clarify what he meant:
FBI: Well, what made you ask God whether or not you should wait?
KORESH: Because I didn't want Him to destroy you.
Between 9:37 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., the negotiators worked out the details with Schneider for the exit of two more adults. At 11:00 a.m., Rita Riddle and Gladys Ottman came out. Afterward, Schneider said that more could be coming out shortly. He said that he would have to speak to Koresh. At 2:15 p.m., Sheila Martin, age 46, James Lawton, age 70, and Ofelia Santoya, age 62, left the compound. A short time after their surrender, SAC Jamar advised the negotiators that the tactical personnel were going to bulldoze obstructions away from one side of the compound. The Davidians were advised of this decision and the reasons why. At 3:40 p.m., the FBI permitted Sheila Martin to call back into that compound and speak with her husband, Wayne. After informing him that she and their kids, who had been previously released, were doing well, Wayne responded that "[T]ime is short, and God is angry." He then began to preach before hanging up. The negotiators immediately called Wayne back and put his wife and kids back on the line. Shelia, apparently attempting to calm Wayne, stated that upon her coming out "everything went well ... the ride was bumpy." Wayne again cryptically responded by saying "It could be bumpy later too." For the remainder of the day, the negotiators urged Schneider to send out more people. Schneider claimed that he was unable until he and others conferred with Koresh. However, according to Schneider, Koresh was asleep and could not be disturbed. Additionally, the negotiators passed on several messages to those inside from relatives and friends. The negotiators also received messages from several people in the compound and passed them on to relatives. The general tone of the messages from inside was that "everything is fine and we will see you soon." In the evening hours, the FBI began playing very loud music over the loudspeaker system. Several times during the night, those in the compound asked that it be turned off. Finally, at 11:35 p.m. an angry Schneider relayed a message from an angry Koresh: "Because of the loud music, nobody is coming out." A short while later, the loudspeaker system malfunctioned. The night ended quietly.
The negotiators called Schneider at 9:03 a.m. Schneider was still angry about the loud music which had included Tibetan chants. The negotiators attempted to calm him by blaming the FBI tactical agents; however, Schneider remained angry, claiming that the loud music had been counterproductive. Contact was terminated at 9:30 a.m. SAC Jamar called a meeting of the crisis management team to discuss strategy. The negotiators advised him that there was no clear indication that large numbers of those remaining inside would surrender any time soon. The hostage negotiation team observed that Schneider and Koresh had continued to resist all efforts by the negotiators to provide specific names, numbers, or time frames for action. Accordingly, several "stress escalation" measures were discussed. Failing a positive response from the Davidians to these actions, the negotiators recommended the introduction of tear gas as a non-lethal alternative to clear the compound. This was the first time the FBI formally considered tear gas as an option for resolving the standoff. The FBI waited almost another month before actually using tear gas. Because of technical problems with the telephones and with the loudspeaker system, SSRA Sage went in an armored vehicle to the compound at approximately 5:15 p.m. and spoke to the individuals inside through a bullhorn. Schneider, came a few paces outside of the compound to speak to SSRA Sage, and informed him that Koresh appeared to be getting weaker. The FBI decided to lay groundlines for a field telephone system to facilitate communications. The field telephone was delivered to the compound at 7:45 p.m., and conversations began again at 8:00 p.m. At 8:27 p.m., the FBI read a new offer to Schneider and agreed to deliver it in writing. The offer was (1) Koresh could communicate with followers while in jail and could hold religious services, and (2) Koresh could make a worldwide broadcast on CBN. In return, Koresh and all individuals must begin departure by 10:00 a.m. on March 23, with everyone out by noon. Additionally, there would be live media coverage of their exit. A letter confirming this offer by SAC Jeff Jamar was delivered to the compound at 10:00 p.m. Contact was terminated at 11:46 p.m., with no answer from the compound.
At 2:55 a.m., Koresh spoke to the negotiators, rejected the offer, and claimed that he had thrown away SAC Jamar's letter. The next morning at 8:20 a.m., the letter was read to those inside the compound over the loudspeaker system. Livingstone Fagan, age 34, came out of the compound at 10:05 a.m., after discussions between the negotiators and Schneider. Conversations with Schneider continued throughout the day with the focus on attempting to get additional people to leave the compound. However, the negotiators noted at 1:30 p.m. that the conversations with Schneider had become very combative and argumentative. AUSA William Johnston in Waco wrote a letter directly to Attorney General Janet Reno. In the letter, Johnston complained about the FBI's handling of the crime scene, and about U.S. Attorney Ederer's handling of the situation. The Attorney General directed Mark Richard, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, to look into the matter and make recommendations for a solution. At 4:45 p.m., the FBI was notified that the news media might be bringing in a special parabolic microphone to attempt to hear what was being said over the P.A. system at the compound. In response, the FBI gave orders to all agents to say nothing through the bullhorn or loudspeakers that they didn't want to hear on television or read in the newspaper. Conversations with Schneider and others continued until 7:56 p.m. with no results. At 10:00 p.m., the FBI decided to direct exterior floodlights at the compound all night and, instead of music, play tapes of previous negotiations, and messages from those who had exited the compound. The negotiators called into the compound at 11:34 p.m. asking for Koresh; however, Schneider claimed he was asleep and refused to wake him.
During the pre-dawn hours of March 24, the floodlights were directed at the compound, and Tibetan chants, Christmas music, and tapes of previously recorded negotiations were played over the loudspeakers. After several attempts, the negotiators reached Steve Schneider at 9:52 a.m. still angry over the loud music, Schneider refused to talk any further that day. At the 10:30 a.m. daily press briefing, the FBI increased its "verbal assault" against Koresh, calling him a liar and coward, and accusing him of hiding behind his children. The FBI had been using the daily press briefings as an additional method of communicating with Koresh and the others in the compound, knowing that they listened to the briefings carefully. The negotiators made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the compound between 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Throughout the standoff the FBI was concerned about its ability to maintain the security of the perimeter around the compound, to prevent people from entering or leaving. This concern became a reality when, at approximately 6:30 p.m., the FBI observed a shirtless male, later identified as Louis Alaniz, knocking at the compound door. The Davidians allowed him to enter. Alaniz had slipped through the perimeter and eluded the HRT. The negotiators immediately attempted to find out who he was and suggested to Schneider that he be sent back outside. In a conversation with Schneider and Koresh at 7:14 p.m., Alaniz was heard to be screaming a sermon in the background. Nevertheless, Koresh refused to send him out, preferring instead to teach him the Seven Seals. Once again, the FBI called the compound numerous times between 7:15 p.m. and 10'30 p.m. No one answered until 10:35 p.m. when the negotiators spoke to both Schneider and Koresh suggesting that they send out the new "intruder" in the interest of everyone's safety. Koresh refused, and the negotiators broke contact. At 11:37 p.m., the negotiators called the compound and spoke to the "intruder" who identified himself as Louis Anthony Alaniz. The evening ended with no progress and with one more person now inside the compound.
There were sixteen conversations spanning 5.5 hours on March 25. The negotiators spoke to eight different people. The parties argued about religion, the criminal justice system, access to the news media, and whether or not anyone was going to come out of the compound. At 1:13 p.m., the negotiators demanded that ten to twenty people at a minimum come out by 4:00 p.m. Schneider was advised that if this failed to occur, certain actions would be taken by the FBI. At 4:00 p.m., there was no activity from inside the compound. The armored vehicles moved into the compound and removed a number of -motorcycles and go-carts. Those inside the compound simply watched by holding mirrors in the windows so that they could see outside. At 6:12 p.m., Schneider claimed that if he could see one or two ATF agents locked up, they all would come out. The negotiators refused to discuss this suggestion. Conversations continued between Schneider and the negotiators from 5:50 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Schneider suggested that ten additional people might come out the next day. Schneider even suggested that he might be one of them. The negotiators also spoke to two women, beseeching them to come out with their children. No agreements were reached. Little, if any, progress was made, and the conversations ended at 10:57 p.m.
The FBI attempted all night to get Koresh on the telephone. Schneider and others claimed first that Koresh was asleep, and later that he had a headache and was unable to talk. At 9:40 a.m., Schneider was given a deadline of noon to send out ten or more individuals. The FBI threatened further action if no one were released. Once again, the noon deadline passed with no activity. At 12:10 p.m., the armored vehicles moved back into the compound and removed eight vehicles. Conversations continued with Schneider throughout the day to no avail. Schneider simply complained as usual and began his own preaching about the Seven Seals. Contact was terminated at 4:58 p.m., after the FBI told him that no one could come outside the compound unless it was to surrender. Between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, the negotiators attempted to call the compound approximately six times, letting it ring at least twenty times on each call. No one answered. The perimeter was compromised again on March 26. Sometime between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, an unknown male, who had apparently snuck past the HRT, entered the compound.
The negotiators called into the compound several times during the early morning hours, but no one answered. Lights, music, and helicopter activity occurred throughout the night. At 8:50 a.m., a banner was hung outside that read "Tank Broke Phone Lines". A new telephone was delivered, and contact was re-established with Schneider at 12:32 p.m. The negotiator gave Schneider until 1:45 p.m. to send out at least ten people, or else the FBI would take some additional action. Schneider responded that they were not concerned with FBI actions, and that "you can burn us down, kill us, whatever." Schneider was contacted at 1:30 p.m. He informed negotiators that no one wanted to come out. The 1:45 p.m. deadline passed. Immediately thereafter, the FBI, with the armored vehicles, began clearing the front side of the compound. The negotiator contacted Schneider at 6:48 p m. and spoke to him until 7:59 p.m. Schneider stated that Koresh refused to speak to the negotiator and that no one else was coming out that night. During this time period, the negotiators also spoke to the male who had entered the compound the previous night. He gave his name as "Jesse Amen." The negotiators called Schneider again at 9:34 p.m. During this conversation, as well as overnight, the loudspeakers were broadcasting various sounds such as sirens, squawking birds, and laughter. Schneider proclaimed that he was looking forward to God putting an end to the earth; however, he also stated that there would be no suicide. Schneider also said that no one could be convinced to come out. This call ended at 10:27 p.m. Schneider called back at 10:29 p.m., saying that two people were guarding Jesse Amen and Louis Alaniz. This conversation, with one short interruption, lasted until after midnight. During this conversation, Schneider denied that Koresh was Christ, confirmed that some individuals had been sent out for drinking, and recommended that the building be set on fire to force everyone out. The evening ended with no progress. There had been no contact with Koresh for four days.
The conversation with Schneider, which began the previous evening, lasted until 1:48 a.m. with no progress, except that Schneider promised to send out an additional videotape showing individuals in the compound. At 7:44 a.m., the negotiators spoke with David Thibodeau and played a taped message from his mother. Thibodeau suggested that he might record an audio or videotaped message for his mother. In a conversation at 11:24 a.m., the negotiators suggested a face-to-face meeting with Koresh and Schneider. Schneider agreed to discuss the idea with Koresh. At 11:58 a.m., the negotiators demanded that at least ten people come out by 12:50 p.m. At 12:30 p.m., another individual attempted to enter the compound but was arrested. The 12:50 p.m. deadline passed. Contact was established with Koresh at 2:26 p.m. Koresh claimed that he had no intentions to die in the compound, and that he was still waiting for word from God. Koresh continued his rambling discussions and preachings until 4:13 p.m., with no progress. However, Koresh did ask to speak with DeGuerin, the attorney hired by his mother. In response to the missed deadline, the FBI continued using armored vehicles to clear away cars, fences, trees, and other obstructions from the exterior of the compound during the afternoon. During these operations, adults inside the compound were observed holding up children in the windows. At 6:10 p.m., a call from DeGuerin was patched into the compound by the FBI. In observance of, the attorney-client privilege, all recording and monitoring devices were disconnected. At 7:00 p.m., local police warned the FBI that approximately 60 people were travelling to Waco to assist the Branch Davidians. Contact was re-established with Koresh after the call with his attorney. Koresh was upbeat, stating that the lawyer talked straight with him. Koresh discussed surrender and promised to "[d]o something solid, that is no bull." The evening ended with plans for Koresh to meet face-to-face the next day with his attorney. Also, a new videotape from the compound was sent out at 10:55 p.m. The videotape showed nineteen children being "interviewed" by Koresh. The children appeared to be tired, but healthy. This video was analyzed by experts. Their opinion is included at pages 187-88 of this report.
The proposed face-to-face meeting between Koresh and DeGuerin caused significant controversy within law enforcement. SAC Jamar made the decision to permit the meeting, clearing it with U.S. Attorney Ederer. The AUSAs and the Texas Rangers, who would be responsible for the eventual prosecutions, strongly opposed the meeting. Jamar was focused on resolving the standoff safely, while the prosecutors and the Texas Rangers were focused on the integrity of future court proceedings. The prosecutors and Texas Rangers were afraid that the defense attorney would give advice to Koresh which could result in the destruction of evidence and cause a more difficult prosecution. The negotiators attempted unsuccessfully to contact Koresh between 3:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to establish a procedure for the meeting with his attorney. On each call, the negotiators were informed by various individuals that Koresh was unable to come to the telephone. Finally, at 11:28 a.m., Koresh came to the telephone and was told that his attorney was ready for the proposed face-to-face meeting. A dispute arose between Koresh and the FBI over whether the meeting would occur in the compound or in a neutral site, such as the front of the compound. In an attempt to break this impasse, Koresh spoke to his attorney at 12:05 p.m. in an unmonitored telephone call. It was agreed that the attorney would come to the front door of the compound, while Koresh remained just inside the door. The meeting between Koresh and DeGuerin took place at the front door of the compound between 4:12 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The FBI debriefed DeGuerin about the meeting; however, no attorney-client information was discussed. DeGuerin described it as a positive meeting. Schneider confirmed this impression in a subsequent telephone conversation with negotiators. Schneider also complained, however, that DeGuerin's fees were too high. In a conversation with Koresh at 8:54 p.m., another meeting with DeGuerin was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. the next morning.
The meeting between Koresh and DeGuerin occurred as scheduled at 10:00 a.m. This meeting lasted until noon. A second meeting took place between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Additionally, at 3:18 p.m., Steve Schneider was allowed to speak to his attorney, Jack Zimmerman, in an unmonitored call. This conversation ended at 3:53 p.m. There were no contacts with individuals inside the compound on March 30, except to arrange for the meetings and telephone conversations with the attorneys.
Pursuant to the instructions of the Attorney General, Mark Richard of the Criminal Division, accompanied by departmental and FBI supervisors, held several meetings in Waco and San Antonio. The meetings were held with SAC Jamar, AUSA Johnston, Texas Rangers supervisors, and U.S. Attorney Ederer in an attempt to determine the reasons for the coordination problems and to make recommendations to the Attorney General. A fourth meeting between Koresh and DeGuerin took place from 9:35 a.m. until 12:10 p.m. A fifth meeting took place between 3:07 and 6:05 p.m. After this last meeting, DeGuerin spoke with SAC Jamar. DeGuerin appeared to be frustrated with the negotiation efforts. He told Jamar that for every issue he resolved, Koresh would bring up a new one. DeGuerin also said that at one point, when it appeared that Koresh was about to make a serious commitment to surrender, he (Koresh) appeared to "pass out." A few moments later, he regained his composure and diverted the conversation away from surrender. DeGuerin stated that he was unable to get any commitments from Koresh. It was agreed that DeGuerin would try again the next day.
On April 1, Mark Richard returned to Washington, D.C. and reported his findings to the Attorney General. The Attorney General approved a plan wherein a senior prosecutor, Ray Jahn, would be assigned as lead counsel in the Branch Davidian case. AUSA Jahn would report directly to the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division in Washington, D.C. AUSA Jahn was charged not only with the responsibility for prosecution, but also with ensuring better overall cooperation between the numerous agencies involved. At 9:53 a.m., both DeGuerin and Zimmerman entered the compound to speak to their clients, Koresh and Schneider. At 12:55 p.m., DeGuerin called the FBI command post and asked for additional time. DeGuerin believed that he was making "terrific progress" and wanted to continue talking to Koresh. The FBI granted more time, since it appeared progress was being made. The meeting continued until 6:02 p.m. DeGuerin and Zimmerman met with SAC Jamar and told him that Koresh and his followers would leave the compound on either April 2 or April 10. The disparity in dates was due to confusion over the dates for observing the "Passover" holiday in the compound. The attorneys also informed Jamar that they had instructed their clients not to speak to law enforcement except to arrange the final surrender of those inside the compound. Jamar, after consultation with the United States Attorney's office, declined to recognize the attorneys' instructions. The FBI continued to maintain contact with Koresh and Schneider, and Koresh and Schneider continued to maintain contact with the FBI.
At 10:21 a.m., the negotiators called the compound to ask Koresh if he and his followers would surrender. Schneider answered the phone and said Koresh was too weak to come to the telephone. According to Schneider, Koresh was "asking God" to tell him when they should come out. The negotiators reminded Schneider in this conversation that his attorney instructed him not to speak to law enforcement. Schneider acknowledged the instructions. He indicated, however, that he wou ld call negotiators when he had additional information. Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., the negotiators spoke to several women in the compound who requested that the FBI send in milk. At 7:52 p.m. Schneider and Koresh called negotiators and told them that they would not come out until after Passover. They were not specific as to exactly when this would be; they only stated that they followed the Jewish Passover (which was to begin April 6). Koresh told the negotiators concerning the date to "figure it out themselves." The conversation ended at 8:48 p.m.
The attorneys wanted to meet with Schneider and Koresh again on April 3. The negotiators called the compound at 9:01 a.m. to make the arrangements; however, they were told by Schneider that it was the Sabbath and that only the Bible or "spiritual things" would be discussed. The attorneys declined this invitation. The negotiators attempted three telephone calls at 6:00 p.m. No one answered. There were no further contacts that evening.