Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Trojan Horse: Inside the ATF Raid at Waco, Texas

Taking the Arms Room

Inside the arms room, Buford saw a cult gunman backing through an open door into a hallway. As the gunman slipped away, Buford crossed the room and peeked through the opening. The Branch Davidian stood in the hall, his rifle pointed at the door. He was in an ambush position, waiting for an agent to pop through the doorway so he could blast him. In the central highlands of Vietnam, Bill Buford had learned how to survive ambushes. The trick was to not expose yourself and to do the unexpected. Buford shoved his 9mm pistol into the door's hinge-side crack, the gap between the door and frame, and fired until the gunman dropped to the floor.

When Buford looked around, he saw that the room was indeed an arms room. Racks of long guns lined the walls, and he spotted a case of MK II hand grenades. Suddenly, bullets from the next room tore through the wall and forced Buford, Jordan, and Constantino to dive for cover.

Robert Williams, agent
Robert Williams, agent

Just below the chapel, New Orleans SRT member Rob Williams squatted behind a hunk of metal and laid down cover fire for the agents being ripped apart on the roof. A Davidian gunman fired a rifle round that struck Williams in the left cheek, penetrated downward through the lower part of his face, and left a gaping exit wound just below his right ear. Williams died before he hit the ground.

Nine of us crouched behind the bulldozer as a continuous stream of gunfire poured from the second and third-story windows along the front of the compound. Dozens of other ATF agents had taken cover behind the Davidian vehicles strewn along the driveway. Our two cattle trailers, and the pickup trucks that had towed them, stood empty in front of the compound, pockmarked with bullet holes.

©2003 Chuck Hustmyre. All Rights Reserved.