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Below are excerpts from statements to Congress of two survivors of the government's 1993 assaults on the Branch Davidian religious group outside of Waco, Texas. There have been many renditions of, and theories about, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' February 28, 1993 raid on the group that led to the deaths of six Davidians and four federal agents; the 51 day siege that followed; and the FBI's April 19, 1993 gas and tank assault that led to the deaths of 76 Davidians, including 23 children. These statements to the Joint Hearing of subcommittees of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in 1995 provide an authoritative, though far from complete, version of events. Davidians charge that the government unfairly attacked them, despite their attempts to cooperate and comply with the search warrant, that the FBI sabotaged negotiations repeatedly; that there was no need for the gas and tank attack because Davidians had promised to come out in just a few more days; and that Davidians did not commit mass suicide but were trapped in the building which caught on fire because of the actions of the government's tanks. They allege the government is covering up the truth to protect federal agents from prosecutions.
DAVID THIBODEAU, a musician in his mid-twenties, and member for about two years, survived the April 19th fire which killed his wife, Michelle. He spoke during a July 19th panel before the House committee:
I met Koresh in approximately '91. And I had the opportunity,
after about three or four months of getting to know him and some of the
people, of going to Passover of '91, I believe it was, in Waco. I
was there for about two or three weeks, and then I went up north to Maine.
And then I went back to California, where David had a property there, and
I spent some time there. I also had an apartment at the time and
I was between the two. And then finally they decided they were going
to move back to Waco for a while, so I went with them. At this point
I was becoming involved in the music and the spiritual teachings and decided
to move. I was there for some time, and for the next couple of years
was on and off between California and Waco.
I recall that approximately two weeks before the raid [David Koresh] was going through a period of time where he wanted to get back into health and back into shape, and so he would go out running. And some of the guys would go jogging with him. And he would go up the driveway to where the EE – I believe it was the EE Ranch Road, the dirt road that was in front of the building. And he would jog directly in front of the two houses that are across the street -- one, of course, was the surveillance house -- all the way down to the stop sign, maybe about a mile or so -- I'm not really sure what the measurements were -- and then back. And then usually, you know, some of the guys would come on the property and, you know, we'd do some jogging on the property as well.
And I know that he went to town infrequently, but still went to town on a number of occasions. I guess one thing that I could try to refer you to is that I remember during the course of the 51-day standoff, when the FBI -- I believe it was the FBI initially said that he never left the building; you know he never left. We couldn't possibly have gotten him. I remember the Waco Tribune-Herald and some other media came forward because a number of people within the community of Waco had come forward saying that they had seen him in their places of business just days before the raid. I believe one was Chelsea's Bar & Grill. And that's the only one that really stands out, but I remember a couple of businessmen from Waco came forward saying, "He was in my store just last week or just the other day." [Re: the search warrant] I mean, from my understanding of the law, if you're going to go after someone for what you consider to be illegal activity, that's what you would concentrate on in a search and arrest warrant.
And from my understanding, you know, it went into the wives and the different aspects that have been covered today, certain aspects of child abuse that's trying to be proven. So I guess that was irregular.
I did see AK-47s and I did see AR-15s. And there were times, various times, when different people would go out and shoot on the firing range. There were times when people that we knew from the community would come out and fire at our firing range. And, you know, to me, I'm from the East. I'm from up in Maine, and I was not raised around firearms. And to me it wasn't -- I mean, it wasn't something that I was really into. But being there, I did notice that there was kind of a different mentality, I don't know if it would be Texas or whatnot, but it seemed like a lot of our neighbors would come over, you know, neighbors from in the country would come over and fire. It didn't seem to be as big a thing as it did where I was from, so it became acceptable.
There was absolutely no drugs in Mount Carmel, period, other than alcohol once in a great while when it was -- when we'd worked particularly hard and, you know, everyone feels that they just needed to unwind, but generally anything like that was done -- there was a sobriety there that was to be practiced, and anything like that that was done was on a very sporadic basis, and David Koresh was absolutely against drugs.
In the morning of (February 28, 1994) I was in the cafeteria area of the building eating breakfast. And after breakfast I took a walk down the hall. And I got down the hall and David Koresh was sitting there with Robert Rodriguez, who we know to be the undercover agent now. Robert Rodriguez was sitting there talking with Dave. And he had been over quite a bit, I would say on eight or nine separate occasions. So I didn't really think too much about this.
Now, the night before this -- the day before this, the Waco Tribune-Herald had started to print "The Sinful Messiah" series, a seven-part series. So obviously there was concern over that. And, you know, David did kind of view that as the beginning of the end, but obviously we didn't know how soon this was going to take place. Just really quick, if I may say, David's hope was still that the music would go forward. He wanted to get his message out through the music and he was hoping that if this were an undercover agent -- he always gave the gentleman the benefit of the doubt -- he would see where Koresh was coming from, from another side, from a scriptural side, and perhaps go to his superiors and try to talk to them about this other aspect.
David's whole attitude with that was, "Well, you know, even if he is working with the government, even if he's with the National Guard, it doesn't matter. You know, I have the truth here that is being presented. It's going to be presented. And hopefully this person will see something that the other people from, you know, not having the experience of one on one with David cannot see." So, that was the hope.
(On February 28) I was in the cafeteria. I started to hear the helicopters coming from the back of the building. It was very faint. Koresh came down the stairs. My recollection is that Koresh was not armed. There were some people around Koresh. There was -- I would say quite a few -- five or six. And there was a lot of doors slamming throughout the building at this point. It just seemed like a lot of action was taking place at once. And David held his hand up. At this point, there were people coming in from the other area of the building. I wish I had a diagram. But they were coming in from where the dormitories were for the men. And they came into the cafeteria. David held his hand up and he said, "Now, okay. They're coming. They're on their way."
My sense of what happened, from where I was, is after David Koresh made that statement, he said, "Don't do anything stupid. We want to talk to these people. We want to work it out. That's what we're all about here at Mount Carmel." And I'll never forget those words, because I was really scared. And when I heard that, you know, it was like, okay, David's going to try to talk to them. Maybe this can still be avoided. He went to the front door.
Now, from where I was in the cafeteria, it sounded to me like the shots were emanating from the front. Now, I talked to Renos Avraam later, and a couple of the other survivors. Renos particularly, his testimony was very strong. I said, you know -- this is considerable after hours later, maybe even a couple of days later. Time really was kind of -- the tunnel vision type thing. But I talked to Renos, I said, "what did you think of all that firing just starting at the front door?" And Renos said, "I was outside, and I saw the helicopters coming in, and I saw fire coming from the helicopters into the tower area. And it initiated with the helicopters firing."
And I said, "Renos, are you sure," because it didn't go with my experience from what I heard. It sounded to me like the front door. And he said, "I am positive" --which indicates to me that it was simultaneous, that you had the group at the front and the group at the back. And the only way that that could have occurred is if it all occurred together.
CLIVE DOYLE, a Branch Davidian member since the mid-sixties, survived the April 19th fire which killed his daughter, Shari. He spoke during a July 28th panel before the House Committee.
I'd just like to thank the members of the subcommittee for this opportunity
to speak at these hearings. If truth and justice are really the important
concerns here, then it puzzles me that only two of the survivors have been
given an opportunity to speak at these hearings -- that is, David Thibodeau
and myself. Several survivors, I know, were in the Washington area
last week and were not called, and also I know that those nine survivors
that are in prison would definitely have liked to have added their experience
to these hearings.
So it is my privilege and I feel my duty to address the subcommittee members on behalf of those survivors that can't speak for themselves. And on behalf of the 82 that died throughout the 51 days, the first thing I'd like to say is that there was no ambush of the ATF officers, there were not 40, 50, 60 people as is alleged, waiting for them at every window with guns. Very few of the people on February 28th inside the building knew anything about the arrival of the ATF until maybe a minute or so before the trailers drove in the gate.
I personally was in my room at the north end of the building, which if you've seen diagrams of the building, would be the third window from the left-hand end, and I recall hearing some people in the chapel -- excuse me, in the cafeteria area, and it puzzled me that people would be in there since breakfast was over. I went out to see what was going on, and it was at that time that there was talk that word had come in that something was coming -- somebody was coming. About the time I arrived, David Koresh walked in from the opposite door from the kitchen serving area and confirmed that he had heard somebody was coming and he cautioned us and says, "I want everybody to stay cool. Go back to your rooms and just, you know, wait. I will go to the door and talk to these individuals, whoever they are."
I went back to my room, and within a minute, I'd say, or less, heard David at the front door saying, "Hey, wait a minute, there are women and children in here. Let's talk about this." Immediately shots rang out coming from the outside in. And I -- although not an expert in firearms or ballistics or anything, you could definitely tell the difference between shots fired outside as opposed to shots fired indoors. It had a distinctly different sound.
I went running down the hall thinking there must have been a massacre or people hurt, at least, in the area of the front door, and found Perry Jones laying in the hall screaming that he'd been shot. Perry Jones was in his 60s, he was unarmed, as was David Koresh when they went to the front door. Both were shot in the area of the front door. David was shot in the wrist. Perry Jones was shot in the stomach.
Upon finding Perry screaming that he'd been shot and holding his stomach, where there appeared to be blood coming through his clothes, I told him to hang on there for a minute, and I rushed to the front door thinking there may be others also wounded. To my surprise there was no one else in the foyer area and I retraced my steps back and helped Perry. With the help of another individual by the name of Livingston Malcolm, we helped him to a bed on the inside of the building. We put him on an inside room rather than in his own room because there were bullets still coming through the walls, and we were -- I was afraid that if we put him in his own bed, he would receive other wounds, you know, as a result of these shots coming into the building. I had a couple of Tylenol tablets and I brought them back and gave them to him to alleviate the pain. He was screaming; it was very unnerving to hear his screams of pain.
After giving him the Tylenol, somebody came up to me and said Winston Blake was dead. I said, "Where is he?" The said "He's in his room." So I made my way further up the hall to the north; he was the last room on the inside. And as I approached his bedroom doorway, I could hear water running, and it kind of puzzled me. Couldn't make out, you know, what was creating that sound until I rounded the doorway and found Winston laying in a pool of blood and water on the floor. The reason for the water pouring into the room was the fact that the outside of Winston's room -- his was the only room on the inside -- or I should say on the backside of the hallway that ran the length of the building that had a window in it. The other three rooms on that side of the hall abutted up to the cafeteria area, and therefore they only had sheet rock walls. But his room had a window, but you couldn't see out of the window. There were three huge plastic water tanks on a foundation outside the window which totally blocked the window from either seeing in or out. And the water was coming from dozens of bullet holes that had been coming out of this water tank on a downward angle. In other words, on the outside of the tank the bullet holes were high up and coming down into the room, which led me to believe the helicopters had been firing, contrary to what ATF and other officials had stated.
Other witnesses have confirmed, such as Marjorie Thomas who gave a video deposition for our trial in San Antonio. Katherine Matteson also testified that bullets were fired. And for those that were upstairs toward the back of the building, most of the survivors that I have talked to will testify that the first shots that they heard was from the helicopters as opposed to those of us that were in the front and on the first floor -- we were hearing them at the front door, so they were probably fairly simultaneous.
So I believe that Winston Blake was shot from these helicopters, therefore I disagree with the Tarrant County medical examiner's office, which is a point in my opening remarks that Tarrant County testified that Winston Blake was shot by somebody inside, that he was supposed to have gun powder burns in the wound, but from what I have read, new autopsies were done when his body was returned to England, and it was decided there that there were no powder burns in the wound, and his wounds were -- went along with the concept of being shot from above.
I think just about everybody who has read anything knows that it was Wayne Martin, Harvard graduate, lawyer, that initiated the 911 calls to the sheriff's department in Waco, and any delay, any suffering caused by agents that were shot has to fall to some extent that Larry Lynch , the sheriff's deputy who was answering the calls, monitoring the calls, was not able to reach the ATF and arrange for any help or ambulances or whatever. We were calling for cease- fire right from the start. This is not conducive -- or does not go along with the concept that we were all just waiting to massacre them. There was no murder of federal agents. I am in sympathy with the families of those that lost -- the families of the four agents that died. But I don't call it murder when people are trying to defend themselves believing that you're being attacked by a military force using helicopters and so on who come racing into your house or trying to race into your house using grenades and various different kind of weapons shooting into your building. If those agents were shot from inside, I would at least give us the benefit of the doubt that it was self defense.
The prosecutors during our trial tried to prove conspiracy and murder, and all 11 defendants were found by a jury to be not guilty of those two charges, and I think that to me is for the president and for any media or anybody in this committee to continue to refer to us as murderers, I feel that's unjust. If the killing of federal agents, which was never proven as to who shot them -- if the killing of them constitute murder, then those who shot and killed our people inside must also bear that label of murderers.
As I say, I sympathize with the families. I know what they're going through. We lost a lot of friends and a lot of our families. I lost a daughter inside Mount Carmel. (Crying.) There was a lot of fear after the ATF retreated after we finally got the cease-fire set up, allowed them to come get the wounded and those that were killed. There was a lot of fear that there would be retaliation. There were people who began grabbing guns after the fact. The government tried to say that everybody -- they could put a gun in everybody's hand at the beginning and during the raid, and that's not true. Most people were unarmed. There were a few that had guns, and I admit that, and they were probably those that reacted to seeing David and Perry and others gunned down who responded by firing back, but it was not a general ambush as they would like you to believe.
As I said, after they'd left, we figured retaliation, we figured, you know, with agents wounded and dead, that they would want to get even. There was a lot of fear inside on the part of the residents that they would come back, perhaps at night, and try to get revenge on us. So some began to grab weapons or to pass out weapons to others that didn't have weapons and so on. Some that already had weapons were getting extra magazines or whatever with ammunition in and so forth.
David Koresh had been wounded twice that morning -- once at the front door, and having been wounded there, he slammed the door and ran upstairs, where he ended up being shot again. During that first day, he was laying in a little hallway that went back to the central tower, feeling that he was about to die. He was bleeding profusely. He thought his hip was shattered. But word got to him that people were grabbing weapons, weapons were being brought out of where they'd been stored, and even though I didn't hear it personally, the word came down to us who were in the chapel area that we were to put our faith in God, we were not to feel that the guns were going to be our protection, and anybody that didn't have a weapon prior to the raid itself or people who had weapons and were getting extra weapons or extra ammunition were to put them all back where they came from. And not everybody apparently knew where they went, so a lot of them were just dropping them where they, you know, happened t o be when the message came around.
And so I picked up several weapons and took them back. I asked where they were supposed to be kept and was told that they were kept in the concrete vault area, which was basically behind the cooking area of the kitchen, which -- the base of the central tower. And that was the first time I even knew there were weapons stored in there. Like the ATF, I thought that whatever weapons were out there were stored in the upstairs room that the ATF were breaking into. But I found out that that was stale information, they hadn't been there for several months. So in taking the guns back and putting them back in the room was the first time I was aware of where they'd been moved to. What a lot of people don't understand is that there were areas of Mount Carmel that were off limits to most of the people. People didn't just go up to the rooms that were David Koresh's that were over the chapel or near the gymnasium. Probably one or two people had access to the machine shop. No one else was permitted in there. Other areas were off limits for various reasons. So the fact that -- you know, everybody knew things is an assumption.
There was a lot of people that were very upset to see this carnage, to see people killed, your friends killed and wounded. And I'm not going to justify everything that's been done, but I do think that they had a right to self-defense and try to defend the women and children. Under the circumstances I think anybody would have done the same, if they'd have been in our position, not knowing what all what was going on and what it was all about, but just being caught in the cross-fire and so forth.
For the next 50 days we basically went through varying degrees of hell. I remember the night that I was sitting in the chapel. It was when the FBI brought the tanks into play, into siege. All of a sudden the whole building began to shake like an earthquake, and so we went over to the south wall of the chapel and cracked a window in order to look out. And half a mile away, this big convoy of trailers with the tanks mounted on the top of these trailers. And the ground for a half a mile was shaking. And the building was shaking. And yet we were hearing on the radio that we had a fortified compound, and we kind of said to ourselves, "If only they could be in here and realize how flimsy this place is."
I can remember in the chapel area where I was there was a lot of fear. People were making remarks like, "Well, if they've got this kind of fire power, if they open up on us, this place is going to look like Swiss cheese." People were very concerned that they'd either be shot by the tanks, or if the tanks made incursions into the building, that we would be crushed by falling timbers and so on.
We were trying to cooperate. I believe David was sincere in his cooperation with the -- excuse me, with the FBI negotiators I believe they were trying to wear him out, trying to get as many out alive as possible, and that's commendable. But this whole situation should never have happened in the first place. It could have been handled so many different ways, at different times, to where no agents would have died and no residents of Mount Carmel would have died. But having gone through the initial raid and people being killed, we were trying to make the best of it, and children were being sent out, we were cooperating. It was my understanding that were being told that we couldn't all just come out at any place, at any time en masse. It was to be orderly, it had to be arranged over the negotiating phones. And so, people like myself, who was occupied with various jobs of taking care of garbage, taking care of human waste, and so on, throughout the 50 days, felt that in all likelihood the women, the children, the elderly would be the first ones out, and those of us who were able bodied and able to, perhaps, take care of necessary chores, would probably be the last. But we were sincerely expecting to come out. Everybody I know in there had their bags packed, but as the 50 days wore on, as the tactical team in the tanks began to do things on a more and more -- you know, more and more pressure was expended by them, which seemed to work at cross purposes with what the negotiators were promising and so on, people began to balk.
We observed, you know, immoral -- what we considered immoral acts. FBI agents were mooning people from the tanks. A number of individuals have testified to that and told me that. We had all -- we had the electricity turned off, or course, and most of our fresh or frozen foods were destroyed or spoiled.
So as I say, we went through varying degrees of hell, with noise, music, bright lights, the children were suffering along with the adults. We were without water, having had our water tanks shot up, we were living on rain water. Whenever it would rain, people would put buckets out the window and collect rain water, and it was rationed. I doubt whether anybody got more than eight ounces a day, if that. I lost 25 pounds by April 19th. I know others that lost about the same amount.
You say why didn't the people come out? There's more than one reason. One is fear of what's going to happen to you if you come out. One is distrust because you're being told certain things that aren't taking place. The negotiators had promise if certain people come out, they could keep their bibles when they were taken to jail. I'd been told that if I came out, I could go live with my daughter in California, but everybody that came out we saw was being handcuffed and carted off to jail. We were hearing their bibles were being taken away from them, and their bags and whatever they brought out with them were being confiscated and held as evidence and things like this. And so even though we all had our bags packed, as time went on people began to maybe not even take them with them when they exited. One of those was Kevin Whitecliff, who was in the chapel with me. He had a bag packed, and when he came out he just gave all these clothes away. He says, "I'm not going to get to keep these, so if you want them, you know, go ahead and use them." And as a result of the lack of water, we were starting to wear anything we could find, you know. We even got into the supplies that David and the guys that went to gun shows, they had bought up large supplies of camouflage clothing. We got into that because our clothes were dirty and we couldn't wash them. We didn't have any water. We didn't wear them as a statement, we didn't wear them to hide in amongst the bushes or anything like that; it was simply a matter of necessity in order to have some element of cleanliness.
There were people that came out of the building, especially in the last week or two before April 19th, that had grenades thrown at them or fired at them. Steve Schneider was one of them, and he was the one that was -- or one of the ones that was doing the negotiations with the FBI. He was going out at various times and picking up batteries or milk or whatever that the tanks would bring in, a lot of which was bugged, as you've probably learned in these hearings. We found a lot of them. We probably -- there was others we didn't find. But even Steve Schneider, in coming out to pick something one day, had two of these flash-bang grenades lobbed at him, scared the daylights out of him.
So on the 19th of April I was in the chapel, it was still dark, and I was using the lights from the floodlights that they had on us all night. These sleep-deprivation methods that they were using somewhat backfired in a sense, because I was using the light to try to transcribe one of David's studies that was on tape. I was listening to it and trying to write it out in longhand, using this outside light.
I remember about 6:00, give or take a few minutes, we were told over the loudspeakers that tanks would be inserting holes into the building or poking holes into the building to insert gas. Since I happened to be awake, and others that were awake, immediately we began to wake up everybody else and let them know, you know, to expect this attack, this gas being sent in.
Some of us had gas masks. The children didn't, most of the women didn't. I believe it's being testified to this committee that water tends to aggravate that gas, and I can testify to that. I can't tell you exactly how the children dealt with it, but if water aggravates it, then trying to wrap wet towels and wet blankets around you to survive probably only made their suffering worse, since they were in a cul-de-sac type room with no ventilation, no windows, and only one door, which at least once the gas was fired in at point-blank range into that area.
Questions have come up like, well why didn't you put the children in the bus where there was relatively clean air. But during our trial it was testified that the storm shelter, the underground storm shelter, as they called it, or the bunker, was one of the first things they gassed. The northwest corner of the building had been pushed in by the CEV and when the driver was asked why he did that, he says because they'd heard there was a trap door in there and it was his job to push building material and so forth over the trap door so nobody could escape. So to me it's a dishonest statement to say, well why didn't you put the children in the bus.
As I say, there was a lot of concern as to what would happen to people that came out, whether they would be shot. Those of us in the chapel were dodging the ferret rounds. They were like rockets coming through the windows and through the walls. When I'd first heard they were going to inject gas other than from the nozzle of the CEV, in my uneducated understanding, I'm thinking of Hollywood where a grenade is thrown into a room and somebody runs over, picks it up and throws it back out the window if you don't want it. I mentioned that to somebody and they said, well you can't pick them up, they're hot. And I said, well maybe we could use a glove. You never got to see them they whizzed past your head so fast that, as I say, it was like a rocket. The only time you could see them at all was when they hit a wall, stuck into the sheet rock and were hissing, and so on. Anybody that was hit by them could have been severely hit. I heard Jimmy Riddle had been hit in the face, but happened to have his gas mask on and was only knocked down. He wasn't seriously hurt by it -- one of them, anyway.
But other than that, I don't know what was going on at the other end of the building because after six hours of gassing and six hours of tanks penetrating the walls, pushing on the walls, destroying the gymnasium at the back, those of us in the chapel were virtually cut off from the rest of the building. The roof of the gymnasium had collapsed and blocked the back stairs that went up to David Koresh's room. The tank had come through the front door area on numerous occasions, the last one right into the chapel area, was spraying gas there.
They continued to push on the front of the building to where the whole first floor hall that ran the length of the building was blocked with the dividing walls in the various bedrooms being pushed back into the hallway, and the sheet rock and the 2 X 4s cutting off any opportunity for us to have contact with the people at the other end in the cafeteria or whatever.
We were not able to get upstairs, and now whether the stairs out of the cafeteria were still usable, I don't know. I was not -- as I said, we were cut off the to the point where we couldn't -- didn't have contact with any of those people up there.
At one point, probably around noon -- I'm not real good with time -- but I'd say around noon, somebody came into the chapel and told us the building was on fire. We instinctively -- I had the feeling -- I don't remember them actually saying where it was, but my recollection was -- the feeling of everybody in the chapel was it's upstairs in the front somewhere. And so we moved away from the front of the building and got up on the stage and went around behind a partition that was built on the stage of the chapel and on the south wall a tank had knocked a hall in the -- from the outside in.
There was a big heap of Sheet rock and lumber and so forth that the tank had pushed in, and the first ones to get to that hole were David Thibodeau and myself. And we hesitated for a moment. In coming out, the conversation as I remember it was, "Well, if we come out, will we be shot?" We knew there were sniper positions on the south side. There was one that was sandbagged over near the fence. We knew that there were agents inside our boat shed. We knew there was a tank parked next to the boat shed under the tree. There were individuals outside of the tanks. And I might add that all through the 51-day siege, if all we were a bunch of crazies that wanted to kill agents, we had endless opportunities to fire on them if we so chose, and we didn't.
So there was this moment of hesitation on the part of David Thibodeau and myself as to what would happen if we came out, out of the hole, would we be fired at. There was some concern about it. We were surrounded by tanks. There were Bradleys, there were the CEVs, and they had been, as I say, lobbing these ferret rounds or firing these ferret rounds most of the morning, and they sounded kind of like mortars or whatever. You couldn't tell whether they were firing at us other than those or not.
If they'd of used silencers, we wouldn't have know. So in that just moment or so of hesitation, other people were crowding in behind us to the point where eventually 10 people were crowded in a little narrow space behind this partition.
What I recall in looking out the hall and deciding whether we would jump out was that all of a sudden, smoke came along the outside of the building, along the south wall of the chapel heading from west to east toward the back of the building, and when it got to the hall, it was like it just got sucked in where we were, and the whole area we that we were in just turned pitch black. And almost immediately it was like you could feel heat over your head and on both sides. And I found myself down on the floor rolling around trying to protect myself from the heat. My hands were the only areas that were basically uncovered. I did have a gas mask on at the time, in spite of the fact that the filter had blocked up about 30 minutes after the gassing started. I'd been told that earlier in the morning that the filters wouldn't last long, and when it did block up, I'd taken my mask off only to find my face burning and stinging. It was like you had acid all over you. And so I put the mask back on. I felt I'd rather suck air through the blocked filter than continue with this burning sensation. I saw other adults that had less clothing on than myself stinging and crying in pain because of the CS gas getting on their skin. And because they were not educated in the use of gas or what it was like, some of them were trying to wipe it off with minimal amounts of their drinking water on and perhaps a rag or whatever, only to find that it -- they'd made it worse.
So as I say, what the children were going through, only God knows. There came a point in my rolling on the floor and trying to protect myself from the heat and being in the pitch black not able to see that the voices of those behind me screaming kind of got through to me. (Pause - crying.) I recognized who they were, could identify the voices, and that kind of galvanized me to just leap to my feet and jump -- or dive head first in the general direction of where I figured the hole was, and I landed on the sheet rock face down, and kind of slithered out onto the ground. When I stood the skin was rolling off my hand, my coat was all melted on my back and smoking. I looked back over my shoulder and the hole I had just come out was a mass of flames, and the first thought that came to me was "I'm the only one." (Crying.) "I'm the only one to get out."
I was in shock and pain, and I staggered away from the building, and I ran into the razor-wire fence -- I'd kind of forgotten that they'd surrounded us with this razor wire, and I ran slap-bang into it. And I tried to look -- you know, what do I do now, where do I go, and I looked to my left and I looked to my right, and as I did I saw David Thibodeau and some others walking up to the front gate with their hands in the air, and it was the first time I realized that others had got out besides myself, and not only that, but some of them had come from the same area and I hadn't even seen them leave.
REP. BARR: Okay. Mr. Doyle, there has also been a great -- not a great deal of testimony, but some testimony -- and I know you are aware of it from your experience as well as the previous trial -- about the bugging device picking up discussions about fuel being placed around and putting fuel out and saving fuel and so forth the morning of the 19th. Very briefly, what were those conversations concerning, if you know?
MR. DOYLE: I never heard the remarks about pouring fuel or spreading fuel. I did hear one remark in the vicinity of the foyer area, you know the front part of the church, because of the cans of fuel that were in the hallway when the tank began to come in the front door -- somebody made it -- we better get the fuel. And several of us ran over and either grabbed one or two cans, one in each hand, whatever, and moved it to what we thought was a safe location. I took mine back to the back stairway and just put them on the bottom of the stairway.
MR. DOYLE: One thing I do want to stress, and that is that suicide was definitely against the doctrines. There are references to God being the ring of fire around Jerusalem. It's in reference to God being their protection. It has nothing to do with human beings lighting fires, and I never heard David make that analogy or comparison. Always our trust has been in God, even if he allows us to die. There were times in the Old Testament where people went through fire or went through being in a lion's den or under siege and so forth and God did miraculous deliverances. But we also had the early Christian church of the first century who believed in that same God and were allowed to be eaten by the lions and so on. So we were prepared, you might say, for whatever God allowed to happen to us, to accept it as his will. We didn't lose faith in God or the people that we felt that he had used, such as David and others in the past. But we certainly didn't believe in suicide.
REP. MCCOLLUM: Do you have an opinion, based on all your knowledge of your beliefs and the attitudes and beliefs of those who were inside living in Mount Carmel, before the February 28th raid of the ATF, had David Koresh been arrested outside the compound --... if he had been taken away from you, if you will, and then somebody come knocked on the door to do a search warrant, would there have been anything different? Would you have -- or how would you have reacted to that?
MR. DOYLE: We'd probably, especially if they had come knocking, whether he was there or not, I think they would have been admitted in if they'd have come, you know, regularly and just knocked on the door and said, "We need to see your guns" or whatever. David Koresh had been arrested, along with some friends -- you know, some of the church members -- back in '87, and nobody reacted violently or made threats of revenge or anything like that. It went through a trial process.
Excerpted from the 1995 House hearings three part
transcript Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the