Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Trojan Horse: Inside the ATF Raid at Waco, Texas

Confusion Reigns

The two men opened fire. At least one of Constantino's bullets slammed into the Davidian and dropped him to the floor. As soon as the gunman went down, Constantino turned and ran for the shattered window. As he dove through the opening, he bounced his head off of a wooden support beam. His Kevlar helmet kept him conscious, but the blow rattled his brain and caused his near empty pistol to slip from his fingers.

When he landed on the chapel roof just outside the window, Constantino's momentum rolled him sideways down the slope. Gunfire rained down from the four-story tower and punched up through the shingles. Constantino plunged off of the edge of the roof and landed sideways on a cement slab. The fall broke his hip and shattered his knee, but he borrowed a backup gun from another agent and stayed in the fight.

"I can't stop the bleeding," Special Agent Eric Evers yelled to those of us beside the bulldozer. At the start of the fight, a gunshot had toppled him into a muddy ditch beside the partially completed underground bunker.

A few minutes after the Houston SRT agent admitted that he was bleeding, a man dressed in black and cradling a rifle wormed his way out from behind the wooden fence in front of the bulldozer. He belly-crawled toward the ditch where Agent Evers lay wounded. From the man's clothing, we couldn't tell if he was an ATF agent or a cult member. The Houston and New Orleans agents wore blue tactical uniforms, but the agents from Dallas were decked out in black. Harry Eberhardt, an Oklahoma City agent, shouted at the man, demanding that he identify himself. The man turned toward the bulldozer with a stunned look on his face. He was a Branch Davidian. As he swung his rifle toward us, we let loose a volley of shots that drove him back behind the fence.

Special Agent David Sullivan started the ATF sniper program just a year before the raid on the Branch Davidian compound. Sullivan, a former Marine infantry officer, sat at a breakfast table in the undercover house across the road from the compound, sipping coffee and firing his .308-caliber scoped rifle at cult gunmen in the upper windows of the compound almost 300 yards away. Sully was cool under pressure.

©2003 Chuck Hustmyre. All Rights Reserved.

 

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