The 1993 attack by federal agents on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco pushed McVeigh toward thought of violent action against the United States government. He scheduled the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City for the date of the second anniversary of the government's assault near Waco.
|February 28, 1993||The U. S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), using about 80 armed agents, attempts to execute a search and arrest warrant (for possession of illegal weapons) against the Branch Davidians, a religious community headed by David Koresh and based in central Texas, near the city of Waco. The raid ends unsuccessfully and badly, with six Branch Davidians and four agents killed. What will turn out to be a 51-day stand-off begins at the Mount Carmel compound.|
|March 1993||McVeigh, incensed by reports of the siege at Mount Carmel, travels to Texas to visit the site. He is blocked at a checkpoint three miles from the Branch Davidian's compound. On March 30, an interview with McVeigh about the siege and his feelings toward the government, including the photo shown above, runs in the S.M.U. college newspaper.|
|April 19, 1993||The FBI and army attack the Mount Carmel compound of the Branch Davidians. Tanks ram holes in the building and CS gas is pumped inside. Pyrotechnic devices are fired into the building, igniting a fire that soon becomes an inferno. Seventy-four men, women, and children are found dead inside the building. McVeigh watches reports on the dramatic events from the Nichols family farm in Michigan.|
THE COURT: Next witness, please.
MR. NIGH: Michelle Rauch.
THE COURT: Thank you.
THE COURTROOM DEPUTY: Would you raise your right hand, please. (Michelle Rauch affirmed.)
THE COURTROOM DEPUTY: Would you have a seat, please. Would you state your full name for the record and spell your last name.
THE WITNESS: Michelle Ann Rauch, R-A-U-C-H.
THE COURTROOM DEPUTY: Thank you.
THE COURT: Mr. Nigh.
MR. NIGH: Thank you, your Honor.
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Good afternoon, Miss Rauch. Please tell us what you currently do for a living.
A. I'm a anchor and reporter for a television station.
Q. Is that television station in Fort Smith, Arkansas?
Q. How long have you been a reporter in Fort Smith?
A. Eight months.
Q. Is that a television station there?
Q. If I could, I'd like to direct your attention back to the spring of 1993. Are you familiar with that time period?
Q. And during that point in your life, you were a student at Southern Methodist University; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. You were studying journalism?
Q. Were you a senior at that time in 1993?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. You had grown up in Dallas; is that right?
A. That is correct.
Q. And attended college there at SMU?
Q. Is that right?
Q. During the spring of 1993, when you were a journalism student at SMU, did you have occasion to travel to Waco, Texas?
A. Yes, I did, during my spring break.
Q. What caused you to travel to Waco?
A. I was writing for the school paper and had kind of been following the Waco standoff, and I knew there was another angle to the story, and I wanted to find what that angle was. Since it was a school paper, you couldn't take off during school, 'cause we had classes to attend, of course. So I took it upon myself during my spring break to travel to Waco to find what other angle to the, quote, "Davidian standoff" there might be.
Q. Did you go by yourself, or did you go with someone else?
A. I went with another girl who went to school there. She was not a journalism student.
Q. Was your purpose in going to write a story?
A. Yes, for the school newspaper.
Q. Did you also have an interest in photography at the time?
A. Yes, as a hobby I do photography.
Q. When you arrived in the area of Mt. Carmel, what did you see?
A. As we were driving in a road, I don't recall what it is -- right near the checkpoint to get into the compound, on the left side there was a hill. And a couple large signs caught my attention, David Koresh, The Great National Diversion, What is the Mark of the Beast, I believe. And I said, Stop the car, this is where my story is, up on this hilltop.
Q. Was that near Mt. Carmel?
A. It was -- I don't recall the exact distance, maybe a half mile from the checkpoint to get into the media compound.
Q. When you say "the checkpoint," what checkpoint are you referring to?
A. ATF checkpoint, and that's where all the media that had set up there had to stop and show identification in order to travel on.
Q. Could ordinary citizens go on in --
Q. -- past that checkpoint?
Q. Did you meet Tim McVeigh up on that hill when you said --
A. Yes, I did.
Q. -- you knew that that's where the story was?
A. That was my gut instinct, yes.
Q. Let me show you what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP61. Do you recognize that photograph?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Is that a photograph that you took in March of 1993 near Mt. Carmel?
A. I took this photograph, yes. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP61. MR. GOELMAN: No objection. THE COURT: Received. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Please tell us, Ms. Rauch, what it is that's depicted there.
A. This is how I found Mr. McVeigh, when I walked up on the hill. He was sitting on the hood of his car with some bumper stickers that were for sale.
Q. Did you speak to Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. At that point in time?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And did you examine the bumper stickers that he had there?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP7. It should be on the screen in front of you. Do you recognize what's depicted there?
A. Yes, this is another photograph that I took of the bumper stickers on the hood of the car.
Q. Did you take them on the same day --
Q. -- that you saw Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP7. MR. GOELMAN: No objection. THE COURT: Received. May be published. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. And if you will, tell us what those bumper stickers say.
A. One of them I recall -- I can't see them clearly in this picture -- but Fear the Government that Fears Your Gun, Politicians Love Gun Control. And then the other one I can't see quite clearly here, but Ban Guns. I can't quite make out --
Q. Can I help you? Does it say, Make the Streets Safe for a Government Takeover?
A. That sounds familiar, yes.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP8, which should depict -- and let me ask you, does that depict a bumper sticker on the far left?
A. Yes. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP8. MR. GOELMAN: No objection. THE COURT: All right. Received. May be published. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. And does the one on the far left say, A Man With a Gun is a Citizen, A Man Without a Gun is a Subject?
Q. And are those the types of bumper stickers that Mr. McVeigh had there on his car for sale?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP5. Do you recognize what's depicted there?
A. Yes, that is me taking my notes during the interview of Mr. McVeigh. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP5. MR. GOELMAN: No objection. THE COURT: Received. May be shown. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Now, the young lady there on the right is you; is that correct?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. So this is not a photograph that you yourself took?
A. No, it is not. It is one that I asked my friend at the time to take while I was interviewing. I turned around and said, Get a picture of me interviewing this person.
Q. And that's what happened?
Q. And so it shows you there visiting with Mr. McVeigh --
Q. -- while he was seated on the hood of his car?
Q. Did you also while you were there get an opportunity to look at Mt. Carmel?
Q. And did you take a photograph of Mt. Carmel and where the Branch Davidians were?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP6 (sic). Do you recognize that?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Is that a photograph that you took of Mt. Carmel?
A. Yes, it is. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move to the admission of PP66. '66, I'm sorry. It's PP66. MR. GOELMAN: Objection, there's no evidence that the defendant saw what's depicted in this picture. THE COURT: Overruled; received. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Would you tell us what you -- what is depicted in that photograph you took that day.
A. That is Mt. Carmel where David Koresh and the rest of the people out at Mt. Carmel lived, and that's where they were all holed up.
Q. How far was that -- were you from Mr. McVeigh's location when you took that photograph?
A. Oh, a few miles. I mean it certainly was not visible from the hilltop.
Q. Where you were standing when you took the photograph, how far was that?
A. A few miles. You could barely see it with the naked eye.
Q. All right. Let me show you -- first of all, let me ask you: You said that there was an ATF checkpoint?
A. Yes, there was.
Q. How far was that from where Mr. McVeigh was?
A. Half a mile, perhaps.
Q. If you were standing on the road there, could you see it?
A. Maybe faintly. I don't recall for sure. It was just a short ways down the road by car.
Q. All right. Let me show you what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP62. Do you recognize that?
A. Yes, I do. This is another photograph I took.
Q. Is that a photograph that you took on the same day that you visited with Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes, it is. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP62. MR. GOELMAN: Same objection. THE COURT: Received. Display it. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Please tell us what we see there in that photograph.
A. This is the ATF checkpoint where all the media had to stop and show identification before they could travel in.
Q. And does this photograph depict three separate ATF agents?
A. Yes, it does.
Q. And what are they wearing?
A. Camouflage pants. Some of them had matching tops on, and then they all had black T-shirts identifying themselves as ATF agents.
Q. Let me show you what I've marked as Defendant's Exhibit PP63. Do you recognize that?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Is that a photograph of the same scene from a slightly different viewpoint?
A. Yes, it is. MR. NIGH: I'd move for the admission of PP63. MR. GOELMAN: Same objection. THE COURT: Overruled. Admitted. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. And please tell us what we see there, Ms. Rauch.
A. Basically the same scene, the checkpoint where all media or officers had to stop at to get -- show identification.
Q. Do you know if those ATF agents were armed?
A. I believe they were.
Q. Let me show you, if I might, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP64. Do you recognize that?
A. Yes, this is another photograph I took.
Q. Is that near the checkpoint?
A. Yes, it is. This is the checkpoint. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP64. MR. GOELMAN: May I have a continuing objection to -- THE COURT: Yes, you may. Received, and may be shown. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Please tell us what you saw there that's depicted in the photograph, Miss Rauch.
A. This appeared to be some sort of government truck. I don't know who was in it, perhaps ATF officers, going through the checkpoint.
Q. Was it a military truck?
Q. And was that at the checkpoint where the ATF was stopping --
A. Same checkpoint, uh-huh.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what's been marked for identification as Defendant's Exhibit PP65. Do you recognize what's depicted there?
A. Yes, another photograph I took at -- this is a car actually being stopped at the checkpoint. MR. NIGH: I'd move for admission of PP65. THE COURT: Continuing objection is overruled. Received. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Please tell us what is displayed in this photograph, Miss Rauch.
A. This is just a car that has stopped at the checkpoint, and this is what I saw them doing with every vehicle that stopped there. They would go up to the car and ask for identification.
Q. And there are two ATF agents standing on the passenger side of that car?
Q. And one of them appears to be wearing full camouflage; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. Now, Ms. Rauch, when you were up on top of that hill, you had a conversation with Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. What did you talk about with Mr. McVeigh?
A. I told him who I was and I was doing a story for my school paper and asked him why he was there.
Q. Did he tell you why he was there?
Q. What did he say?
A. He said he just come in response to the standoff and that he -- he went on to say that he was opposed to how they handled the initial raid, that he thought it would be more appropriate had just the local sheriff gone down and issued an arrest warrant.
Q. What was his demeanor or how did he behave when he was talking to you?
A. Just as was depicted in that picture. He was just sitting on the hood of his car. He was willing to talk to me.
Q. Was he calm or agitated, or how would you describe him?
A. He appeared calm.
Q. Did you enjoy speaking with him, or did you find it useful to the story you were writing?
A. I found it very useful. He had a lot of views that he shared with me, which is -- as a writer and a journalist, I enjoyed speaking with him to write about his views in my article.
Q. You said that you intended to write an article. Did you eventually go ahead and write an article?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Let me show you what should be in front of you marked as PP60. Do you recognize that?
A. Yes. This is a photocopy of the newspaper article that was published.
Q. And was that published in the SMU newspaper on Tuesday, March 30 of 1993?
A. Yes, it was.
Q. And did it relate what Mr. McVeigh had said to you during your interview with him?
A. Yes, it did. MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I'd move for the admission of PP60. MR. GOELMAN: No objection. THE COURT: Received. BY MR. NIGH:
Q. Ms. Rauch, I've put in front of us the article -- it also depicts the same photograph of Mr. McVeigh sitting on the hood of his car; is that right?
A. Yes, it does.
Q. And in the article, did you reference a number of direct quotes from Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And could you locate those for us and tell us what he said to you.
A. Would you like me to just go in order?
Q. Sure, the order that they appear in the article.
A. Okay. The first quote: I think if the sheriff served the warrant, it would all be okay.
Q. All right.
A. Second quote: They're not tactical at all. They're government employees. This was in reference to the ATF. Next one: It seems like the ATF just wants a chance to play with their toys, paid for by government money. The next direct quote: The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. He said, The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful, and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control. That's it.
Q. Did you also summarize some of the things that Mr. McVeigh told you --
Q. -- but put them in a summary fashion?
Q. What did you say about that?
A. McVeigh said a sheriff should have served the warrant to Koresh without involving the ATF. Although McVeigh said he is sorry for those killed and injured, he said the ATF had no business being there in the first place. McVeigh said those in the ATF were merely pawns working under the control of government orders. The government thinks it has to spend taxpayer dollars on something, McVeigh said, adding that they saw this as an opportunity and seized it. McVeigh said he believes the government is greatly at fault in Waco and has broken constitutional laws. He quoted the U.S. Constitution and said U.S. armed forces should not be used against civilians, yet they were used against Koresh and his followers. McVeigh said he does not believe the Brady Bill is a solution or an adequate attempt at a compromise. McVeigh said the Koresh standoff is only the beginning and that people should watch the government's role and heed any warning signs.
Q. When he made these statements about the ATF and the action against Koresh, did he make reference to the checkpoint or the ATF agents that were stationed down there?
A. At the checkpoint, no.
Q. But he made reference to the ATF?
Q. When he talked to you about these things, what was his mannerism at the time?
A. As I said, he appeared calm, very articulate, and he appeared well-versed on what his beliefs were.