TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Wednesday marks 25 years since the beginning of a standoff between David Koresh's Branch Davidians and law enforcement near Waco.
At the time Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith worked for the ATF and was told to get to Waco as soon as possible. He arrived at Mount Carmel Center Compound not long after a shootout, and was assigned to help women and children being released.
"Initially they would have absolutely nothing to do with you, but you know how long you're in an emergency room. I had time to interact with them and finally we built a dialogue where [they] would talk to me," he said.
Koresh allowed about 30 people to leave the compound, but about 100 remained inside for 51 days.
"I didn't have any idea when it would come to an end; you're working seven days a week, usually twelve hours a day," he said. "But many times I'd be toward the end of my shift and they'd say, 'okay, we're going to release some more people.' So then we'd be down there on a bus waiting for them to release [people] and it would never come to fruition."
The standoff ended when a controversial fire burned the compound, killing seventy-six people, including Koresh.
Smith said he believes it's important for new law enforcement officers to learn from this part of Texas history.
Branch Davidian leader David Koresh was buried in a Tyler cemetery a little more than a month after the siege ended. The grave was initially unmarked but a headstone was added years later.
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