Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Ranch Apocalypse

Waco, Texas
We drove to Waco yesterday to see what's left of the Branch Davidian compound and also to see the Texas Ranger Museum. The compound is about ten miles outside Waco just off Farm Road 2491.

As we drive though this bucolic and sparsely populated area, I can't help visualizing carloads full of FBI Agents in black Suburban SUVs and an occasional flatbed truck hauling out an Abrams M1A1 tank or some other exotic piece of equipment.

The original Government raid on Mt. Carmel in 1993 went badly wrong, leaving four dead ATF agents and six dead Branch Davidians. The FBI took over at that point because of the death of Federal agents and a 51-day standoff began.

The siege ended even more badly than it began with the death of 82 Branch Davidians. Autopsies revealed that 20 had been shot to death and the rest died in a flaming building, including 20 children and two pregnant women. If you read Wiki about David Koresh, you find that Mt. Carmel had a somewhat turbulent history even before this disaster.

"By late 1987, George Roden's support had withered. To regain it, he challenged Koresh to a contest to raise the dead, even digging up one corpse to practice on it. Koresh went to authorities to file charges of corpse abuse against Roden, but was told he would have to show proof (such as a photograph of the corpse). Koresh returned to Mount Carmel in camouflage, with seven armed followers. All but one - who managed to escape - were arrested by the local police, who had been alerted by the sound of gunfire.[1] When deputy sheriffs arrived, they found Koresh and six followers firing their rifles at Roden, who was also armed. Roden had already suffered a minor gunshot wound and was pinned down behind a tree at the Compound. The sheriff called into the chapel by telephone and talked Koresh into surrender.[6] As a result of the incident, Koresh and his followers were charged with attempted murder. At the trial, Koresh testified that he went to Mount Carmel to uncover evidence of corpse abuse by George Roden. Koresh's followers were acquitted, and in Koresh's case a mistrial was declared."

It was always a strange place. Now the compound has a sign warning off trespassers. We drive in and take some snapshots of a granite stone and a small new church. A man comes out of the church to stare at us, so we wave "hello". Today we are the only visitors.

Koresh took over Mt. Carmel in 1989.

In 1989 Roden murdered Wayman Dale Adair with an axe blow to the skull after Adair stated his belief that he (Adair) was the true Messiah.[7] Roden was convicted of murder and imprisoned in a mental hospital at Vernon, Texas. Because Roden owed thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes, Mount Carmel was placed for sale. Koresh and his followers raised the money and purchased the property, which he subsequently renamed "Ranch Apocalypse."[1] Roden continued to harass the Koresh faction by filing legal papers while imprisoned. When Koresh and his followers reclaimed Mt. Carmel, they discovered that tenants who had rented from Roden had left behind a methamphetamine laboratory, which Koresh reported to the local police department and asked to have removed.[8]

A UPS driver reported that a package broken open on delivery contained grenade casings and black powder. That and the frequent sound of automatic weapons fire led to the ill-fated ATF raid on the compound.

The Texas Ranger Musuem is interesting. They have a 45 minute video about the 185 year history of the Rangers and lots of very pretty firearms elaborately engraved. The many portraits of the rangers seem less steely-eyed than I had imagined.

After that we visit relatives in Killeen and are treated to a Texas steak dinner.

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