Davidian who survived compound fire 25 years ago recounts events of 51-day siege

Clive Doyle's daughter one of 76 Davidians killed in compound fire

By Deven Clarke - Crime and Justice Reporter

NEAR WACO, Texas - One of the nine Davidians who survived the fire that burned down their compound outside of Waco recounted the incident that happened 25 years ago and claimed the life of his daughter.

“When the Branch Davidians came along and we got literature and stuff in Australia from them, we read ourselves into it,” said Clive Doyle, 77.

Doyle arrived in Texas in 1966, believing that as a Branch Davidian, he would be taken to Israel to a kingdom set up by God on Earth.

“I never got any further. I’ve been here ever since,” Doyle said.

Doyle and his daughter, Shari, moved to the Branch Davidan compound outside of Waco. On Feb. 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI attempted to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and raid the compound, which was believed to contain an arsenal of illegal weapons.

“We had guns, but how many of them were illegal, or whether any of them were illegal, that remains to be seen,” Doyle said.

The raid was unsuccessful.

“All hell broke loose — bullets flying through the windows and going through the walls,” Doyle said.

The shootout lasted more than two hours and claimed the lives of six Davidians and four ATF agents. A 51-day siege followed.

“(Authorities would) send all these listening devices in. They had heat-seeking film,” Doyle said.

On April 19, 1993, the siege ended when agents barged into the compound with tanks and tear gas. The compound then went up in flames.

“I saw grown men crying when gas got on them,” Doyle said. “I thought, ‘My God, nobody’s going to get out of there now. I was on fire. My jacket was melting, my hands, skin was rolling off.”

Shari was among the 76 Davidians killed in the fire. Doyle was arrested and put on trial in San Antonio, where he was found not guilty of conspiracy, weapons and murder charges.

The Branch Davidian church still owns the land where the compound previously stood. Doyle said volunteers from all over rebuilt the chapel in 1999.

Doyle said that although he no longer visits the grounds, his faith has never wavered.

“I still believe David was led by God,” Doyle said.

WEB EXTRA: Watch Doyle's full interview below.

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