The ATF attempted to execute their 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 Koresh's brother-in-law.[/suP] 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), that they knew a raid was coming. 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.[/suP] 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 the raid was coming, the ATF commander ordered that the raid go ahead, even though their plan had depended on reaching the compound without the Davidians having been armed.[/suP] 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.[/suP][/suP]
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.[/suP] 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 that they heard shots coming from within the compound, while Branch Davidian survivors claimed that the first shots came from the ATF agents outside. One reason may have been the accidental discharge of a weapon by a member of the ATF personnel, the ATF opened fire with automatic weapons.[/suP] 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, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a wife and 7 children, who for 7 years was an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, 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!"
The local sheriff then 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.[/suP] This conflicts with Gazecki's documentary, where the sheriff of McLennan county at the time states that the ATF agents withdrew only once they were out of ammunition."[/suP]
After the ceasefire, the Davidians, who still had ample ammunition, allowed the 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 16 were wounded. Surviving Davidians claim that some ATF deaths and casualties were caused by 'friendly fire'. The Davidians killed were Winston Blake, Peter Gent, Peter Hipsman, Perry Jones and Jaydean Wendel. Michael Schroeder was shot dead by ATF agents who alleged he fired a pistol at agents as he attempted to re-enter the compound around 5 p.m. with Woodrow Kendrick and Norman Allison.[/suP] His wife claims that he was merely returning from work and had not participated in the day's earlier altercation."[/suP]
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 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."[/suP]