The 51-day siege remains among the most controversial operations in law enforcement history. Its effects were both immediate and longlasting, prompting lawsuits, hearings in Washington, an independent investigation, and pain and distrust that still reverberate.
Agents carry the memories of their fallen colleagues. Some surviving Branch Davidians continue to defend their dead leader. Fringe groups still spin conspiracy theories, debating who shot first. And the government treads much more carefully in similar standoffs.
For law enforcement unaccustomed to defiance, the catastrophe was a wake-up call to overhaul their operations. For the survivors and relatives of the 82 Davidians who died, including more than 20 children, it was a life-altering tragedy.
Important to note:
It's the 25th anniversary of Waco, but the 26th anniversary of Ruby Ridge and the 24th anniversary of the OKC bombing.
It's also plausible that both Ruby Ridge and Waco went sideways because of one particular sniper.
No shots were fired at the Bundy Ranch because the ATF and the FBI had learned just how quickly things go from "shots fired" to "bloodbath" to "reprisal" from the Holy Trinity of patriot conspiracy: Ruby Ridge, Waco and OKC.