This Tuesday marks 18 years since the events which ended the standoff between law enforcement agenices and David Koresh at Mount Carmel, near Waco, Texas. I was living in Austin, Texas. On April 3 of that year– over two weeks before the final showdown– I drove from Austin to Waco to see whatever I could see. These are notes which I wrote for my private record. Obviously, onlookers were kept at a considerable distance from the compound, so there was not much to see. As the anniversary is renewing some interest in those events, here is what I saw that day…
April 3, 1993 Saturday
Drove up to Waco to see this Mount Carmel business. I figured I wouldn’t see much of the compound (I was right), but I was hoping to see the crowds that surely would be out there. I thought I’d get some good pictures, maybe some good stories (I was wrong).
The closest I could get was on a road running by the Methodist Boys Ranch. There were only a few sightseers when I got there. A couple of guys let me look through their binoculars. All you could see was a few rooftops and tower more than a mile away, over treetops. You couldn’t see anything at all of what was on the ground. A military or police helicopter flew over the trees at low altitude, and a small plane circled overhead, but that was it.
There was a guy selling caps and t-shirts. He says he is giving one dollar from each sale to a fund for the families of the ATF [Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency] guys who were killed. The caps were $5. I think the shirts were $12. That sort of stuff is trashy. I don’t mess with any of it.
Nearby there was a police checkpoint with three officers. Two of them were in military type ATF gear. One had a rifle. The third guy was a DPS trooper. I walked over to them and asked if they think [cult leader David] Koresh will come out next week (that’s the rumor). They impatiently waved off my question, and one fellow said in a gruff, irritated tone, “We don’t know what he’s going to do.” They turned away from me, and that ended my attempt at conversation.
Going back toward Waco, off Loop 340, there were several folks hawking stuff. T-shirts, caps, rubber-band shooting “souvenir guns” carved out of wood, buttons, and jalapeno sausage burritos. I bought a burrito ($2) – pretty good.
There was a larger checkpoint on a road going off of loop 340.
So, there wasn’t much going on except people making a buck off of this. They say Koresh may do something next week, which is Passover. I figure the crowds will pick up then, but I’ve seen enough.
Back in Waco, I stopped at the Dr. Pepper museum. That was more interesting than what was going on out at Mount Carmel.