Branch Davidian survivors and scholars discuss how it all could’ve been prevented

The group of survivors and scholars met at the Taylor Museum of Waco History on the 30-year anniversary of the 51st day of the standoff
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 10:15 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A group of scholars and Branch Davidian survivors gathered in Waco on Wednesday to discuss the actions taken by the ATF and FBI and the fire that ended the 51-day stand-off at Mt. Carmel.

All the scholars who spoke have spent years studying the Branch Davidians, David Koresh and the FBI, all in hopes of answering some of the most important questions that have gone unanswered for the last thirty years.

“There was a plan for the Branch Davidians to leave Mt. Carmel. A plan that would’ve worked,” said J. Phillip Arnold, Historian and Director of the Reunion Institute. He believes things could’ve ended much differently for the Branch Davidians.

The scholars went on to discuss different parts of the ATF’s raid, asking themselves how it’s possible for so many questions to remain unanswered to this day.

“Who shot first, who started the fire, who did this who did that,” one survivor questioned.

It was made clear how tired they were of the FBI’s alleged lies when it came to answering those questions.

Survivor David Thibodeau says he knows exactly who shot first, citing that ATF agents fired at Branch Davidian’s dogs outside of the compound.

“At every single step of this the government was the aggressor,” said Thibodeau.

Another topic they claim the FBI lied about is linking asphyxiation deaths to the riot control gas that was pumped into rooms with women and children.

“The CS insertion into the enclosed bunker could’ve been a proximate cause of or directly resulted in all or some of the deaths attributed to asphyxiation as the autopsy reports,” said Stuart Wright, a sociology professor at Lamar University.

Now, those survivors and scholars are looking at how this could’ve been prevented.

“During the 51 days, these people lied completely to you, and they started with the dogs,” said Thibodeau.

The scholars and survivors talked about other things too, like how the many recent documentaries don’t accurately depict what happened during those 51 days.

Other survivors in person and on Zoom spoke about the friends they lost and how April 19, 1993, affects them to this day.