(NewsNation) — On the 30th anniversary of a fiery standoff between ATF and FBI agents and religious cult Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas, a survivor is speaking out.
April 19, 2023, marks 30 years since the end of a 51-day standoff that ended as fire destroyed the compound David Koresh and his followers barricaded themselves in after federal agents began smashing their way in.
Former Waco cult member David Thibodeau joined “Banfield” on Thursday to discuss his experiences with Koresh, saying “the way they chose to serve that warrant, I think, was criminal.”
“I wrote a book out of frustration,” Thibodeau said. “There’s many, many misconceptions still, to this day. Many of what I think of as propaganda techniques that are still being used, and the entire truth still hasn’t really been told.”
About 80 people, including two dozen children and sect leader David Koresh, were killed. Four federal agents were killed, and 14 other agents were wounded.
Thibodeau said Koresh “was the only person that was on that warrant.”
“They could have, should have gotten him outside of the building,” he said. “They did not need to come in with 75 armed men and helicopters in the back of the building. The way they chose to serve that warrant, I think, was criminal. They knew that they had lost the ultimate surprise and they went forward with it.”
For years, there have been arguments over whether authorities or the Branch Davidians started the blaze. While the FBI maintains that the followers ignited the fires, some survivors blamed federal agents.
Thibodeau said, “this all could have been avoided. That’s what I’ve been saying for years and years and years.”
Watch the full interview with David Thibodeau in the video player at the top of the page.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.