University To Create Online Exhibit On Branch Davidian Siege

San Marcos, USA — The Wittliff Collections at San Marcos Texas State University in San Marcos has received a $20,000 grant to create an online exhibit about the 1993 shootout and standoff at the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco.

The grant was awarded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s TexTreasures grant program, the university said.

The exhibit will be created based on the primary source materials journalist Dick J. Reavis, collected while writing “The Ashes of Waco,” which was published in 1995.

Reavis donated his papers to the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection and his archive opened for research in 2006, the university said.

Among the items that will be made available are recordings of negotiations between the Branch Davidians and FBI agents, videos recorded by the federal government during the siege, Branch Davidian Bible studies dating back to the 1970s and correspondence between Reavis and surviving Branch Davidians.

The standoff at Mount Carmel started on Feb. 28, 1993 after Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents launched a massive raid on the compound that left four agents and six Davidians dead.

The shootout stunned the ATF and the FBI moved quickly to take over operations.

It was in charge during the 51-day standoff that captured the attention of the world.

At one point, there were as many as 1,000 media representatives assembled along a rural McLennan County Farm to Market Road in an area that became known as Satellite City.

Analysts later said the intense media scrutiny of the government's handling of the standoff may have contributed to the FBI’s decision to use tear gas in an attempt to break the impasse.

FBI agents in armored vehicles pumped tear gas into the compound in an assault that began early in the morning on April 19, 1993.

Just after noon, fingers of flame began to shoot from one end of the compound.

A strong wind fanned the flames, which quickly engulfed the poorly constructed wood frame building.

As many as 80 died in the fire, including women and children.

Officials later admitted that pyrotechnic teargas devices were also used in the assault, but the government continues to maintain that the Davidians set the fire themselves.

Critics, however, include the producers of an Academy Award-nominated Documentary, 'Waco:the Rules of Engagement," challenge the official account.

Eleven surviving Branch Davidians were later tried in federal court in the deaths of the four ATF agents who died in the raid.

All were acquitted of murder, but four were convicted of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.