Relatives of Cult Leader, Followers React to Fire With Fear and Anger With AM-Armed Cult, Bjt
DALLAS (AP) _ Relatives of cult leader David Koresh and some of his followers reacted with fear and anger over the fiery end Monday of a 51-day standoff at the group’s compound.
″I know that God will take care of them. Even in ordinary death, you know, we all put off the body,″ said Karen Doyle, a Branch Davidian member whose father and sister were inside the compound when it was destroyed by flames.
Ms. Doyle, 21, of La Verne, Calif., and others blamed the inferno near Waco on federal agents. Authorities said cult members set the blaze.
″No, no way,″ said Jean Holub, Koresh’s grandmother in Houston. ″He wouldn’t do that to those children.″
The fire began after FBI agents knocked holes in buildings and lobbed in tear gas.
″I sat there in a stupor and watched the compound burn down and saw no fire trucks,″ said Balenda Ganem, whose son, David Thibodeau, emerged alive from the burning buildings. ″It’s like Vietnam, when I watched it in the living room to see if my brother was going to fall.″
At least 17 children under age 10 were believed to be among 94 followers holed up with Koresh at the complex. Nine cult members came out after the fire started, federal officials said. They were believed to be the only survivors and didn’t include Koresh.
″I am scared to death,″ said Koresh’s mother, Bonnie Haldeman of Chandler. ″Where’s our civil rights? It’s just terrible. The way they handled this whole thing has been wrong.″
The lawyer she hired to represent Koresh, Dick DeGuerin, said the first mistake was to replace negotiations with action.
″The fiasco was whoever made the decision to do this escalation of violence this morning - whoever made the decision to start tear-gassing women and children,″ DeGuerin said.