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Biden’s ATF nominee investigated Waco raid but did not participate

August 30, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and David Chipman, who President Joe Biden has nominated to head the agency, laid siege on a religious sect’s compound in 1993, killing some 70 people.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partly false. The ATF’s 1993 raid of a religious sect’s compound in Waco, Texas, did end in a fatal fire. However, Chipman arrived in Waco weeks after the raid and participated in the event “solely in a post-incident investigative review capacity,” the ATF confirmed to The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: In February 1993 in Waco, ATF agents tried to arrest the leader of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians for stockpiling weapons. The agents were met with deadly gunfire and a 51-day standoff ensued. It ended in April of that year when the compound caught fire, killing at least 76 people inside.

However, Biden’s current nominee for ATF director did not participate in the raid or the fire, according to ATF Public Affairs Chief April Langwell, who explained that he arrived at the compound weeks later.

“Mr. Chipman arrived in Waco, Texas, on May 2, 1993,” Langwell said. “His role in the Waco event was solely in a post-incident investigative review capacity.”

Chipman also cleared up the false claims himself during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May.

“I was directed to report to Waco in May of 1993,” Chipman said. “That was in the month after the events at Waco had concluded. My role was to be assigned to a group of DOJ employees who were investigating the events there and one of the reasons I was selected is because I had no involvement in the actual case that was being examined.”

Nevertheless, social media users claimed this week that Chipman was involved in the raid, comparing the ATF to British soldiers in the Revolutionary War in a post that amassed thousands of shares.

“On February 28th, 1776 the Redcoats began a siege on a church believed to be stockpiling weapons. In the end they burned the church down killing 70 men, women, and children,” the post read. “Wait, that was David Chipman and the ATF in 1993.”

The AP has previously debunked claims that a photo of a man at the scene of the raid showed Chipman.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.