Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Trojan Horse: Inside the ATF Raid at Waco, Texas

Pulling Out

A little while into the ceasefire, we got word that agents on the east side of the compound were moving forward to pull out the wounded and the dead. Minutes later, I heard a burst of gunfire erupt from the main building. It sounded like the ceasefire had been a trap to lure agents into the open and gun them down.

Minutes dragged by, then again the word came: Don't fire unless fired upon. Another ceasefire. We watched and we waited, shivering in the cold, misty rain.

"Move back to the road," someone shouted. It was one of our supervisors, the brain trust of the operation, but I didn't know which one. It had probably been that ambitious weasel Chuck Sarabyn. The raid leader who would later try to lie his way out of responsibility by dumping the whole fiasco on our undercover agent. From my position I could see Sarabyn hiding behind the first cattle trailer. He'd spent the entire shootout talking on the radio with his back to the compound. I never saw him fire a shot.

The agents around me started moving; some peered over the top or around the sides of the bulldozer. We were getting ready to abandon our position and fall back to the road.

"What about Evers?" I said. "We can't leave without him." I wasn't really talking to anyone in particular, just hoping someone had come up with a plan to rescue Evers and maybe somehow I'd missed it.

There was some mumbling. The general consensus of which, I could tell, was that everyone thought that someone should go and get the wounded agent, but considering all the shots we'd heard during the first ceasefire, no one was too eager to do the job. I knew I wasn't eager to walk toward the compound instead of away from it; but since I brought it up, I decided to do it myself. David Opperman, a Houston agent, came forward to go with me.

We stepped onto the plywood deck covering the bunker and crept forward. As soon as we passed the wooden fence in front of the bulldozer, two cult gunmen were waiting for us. They stood 20 feet away, rifles pointed at us. They yelled for us to go away, gesturing with the muzzles of their guns. I didn't know what else to do so I started talking. I told them that everything had been worked out with someone inside their compound. We were just going to pick up a wounded agent. They must have believed me because they didn't shoot us.

©2003 Chuck Hustmyre. All Rights Reserved.

 

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