Director Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata, The Fog) is moving forward with his new film based on the 1993 siege of David Koresh’s Waco compound tragedy. According to Production Weekly he’s already cast Kurt Russell, Adrien Brody and Sharon Stone in the film. This is a pretty crazy little team-up to tell the story of how the ATF raided the Branch Davidian compound that led to the death of 82 residents of the compound and 4 federal agents.
Wainwright explains what he has planned for the film on his website saying,
WACO will be the first narrative feature film to explore the events of the ATF raid on Mt. Carmel, TX, the 51-day siege that followed, and the devastating compound fire that resulted in the deaths of 81 civilians. The movie cuts between ATF special agents, FBI Negotiators, the Davidians on the inside, the tactical Hostage Rescue Team leaders, and the political machinations in Washington DC.
I just assume that Brody will be taking on the role of David Koresh. Wainwright co-wrote the film with journalist James Hibberd, and has been provided with “expert and detailed research” by Michael McNulty, a writer and producer on the fantastic documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement. If you haven’t seen that doc yet I suggest you check it out.
Here is a detailed background on what happened.
The ATF attempted to execute a search warrant on a Sunday morning, February 28, 1993. Any advantage of surprise was lost as a reporter, who had been tipped off about the raid, asked for directions from a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who was coincidentally Koresh's brother-in-law. Koresh then told the ATF agent Robert Rodriguez, who had infiltrated the Branch Davidians (to his astonishment as he was not aware that his cover had been blown), they knew a raid was imminent. The agent made an excuse and left the compound. When asked later what the Davidians had been doing when he left the compound, Rodriguez replied, "They were praying."
Davidian survivors have written that Koresh ordered selected male followers to begin arming and taking up defensive positions, while the women and children were told to take cover in their rooms. Koresh told them he would try to speak to the agents and what happened next would depend on the agents' intentions.
Despite being informed that the Davidians knew a raid was coming, the ATF commander ordered that the raid go ahead, even though their plan depended on reaching the compound without the Davidians having been armed and prepared. While not standard procedure, ATF agents had their blood type written on their arms or neck after leaving the staging area and before the raid because it was recommended by the military to facilitate speedy blood transfusions in the case of injury.
Agents approached the site in cattle trailers pulled by pickup trucks owned by individual ATF agents. When the ATF rolled up to the front door of the compound, Koresh emerged unarmed and asked what they wanted. At this point, shots were fired and Koresh went inside and shut the door.
It is not known who fired the first shots, but each side later claimed it had been the other. It is reported that the first firing occurred at the double front entry doors. (One door, riddled with bullet holes, was removed and lost very shortly after the siege's end). ATF agents stated they heard shots coming from within the compound, while Branch Davidian survivors claimed that the first shots came from the ATF agents outside.
A suggested reason may have been an accidental discharge of a weapon, possibly by a member of ATF personnel, causing the ATF to open fire with automatic weapons. Other reports claim the first shots were fired by the ATF "dog team" sent to "neutralize" the dogs in the Davidian kennel. The written raid plans included diversionary gunfire from the helicopters, but the government claims those plans were not followed.
Within a minute of the raid starting, the Davidian Wayne Martin called emergency services, pleading for them to stop shooting. The resident asked for a ceasefire, and audiotapes record him saying "Here they come again!" and "That's them shooting, that's not us!"
Agents took cover behind vehicles in front of the building and returned fire, while two teams of agents climbed ladders on the side of the building onto the roof. Their objective was to secure the roof within thirty seconds, and to prevent access to the firearms storage. (As later noted by one of their leaders, the ATF failed to adequately consider that the firearms would have already been issued under these circumstances.) A window was smashed, and a smoke grenade was thrown in. Three agents entered the room, but were killed. Bullets fired from the inside punctured the wall, wounding another agent. Both sides continued to fire at each other.
The local sheriff attempted to contact the ATF force, but initially could not get through because the ATF communications officer had turned his radio off. Eventually, the sheriff got through and negotiated a ceasefire. This conflicts with Gazecki's documentary, where the sheriff of McLennan county at the time states that the ATF agents withdrew only after they were out of ammunition."
After the ceasefire, the Davidians, who still had ample ammunition, allowed the ATF dead and wounded to be removed and held their fire during the ATF retreat. ATF agents Steve Willis, Robert Williams, Todd McKeehan and Conway LeBleu were killed during the raid. Another sixteen were wounded. Surviving Davidians claim some ATF deaths and casualties were caused by 'friendly fire'. The five Davidians killed in the 9:45 am raid were Winston Blake, Peter Gent, Peter Hipsman, Perry Jones, and Jaydean Wendel; two by fire from ATF agents, and two at the the hands of the Davidians themselves. Nearly six hours after the 11:30 am ceasefire, Michael Schroeder was shot dead by ATF agents who alleged he fired a pistol at agents as he attempted to re-enter the compound with Woodrow Kendrick and Norman Allison. His wife claimed that he was merely returning from work and had not participated in the day's earlier altercation.
The local sheriff, in audiotapes broadcast after the incident, said he was not apprised of the raid.
Alan A. Stone's report states that the Davidians didn't ambush the ATF, that they "apparently did not maximize the kill of ATF agents" and that they were "willing to kill but (were) not cold-blooded killers." It explains that they were rather "desperate religious fanatics expecting an apocalyptic ending, in which they were destined to die defending their sacred ground and destined to achieve salvation."
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