National Law Enforcement Museum and Target® Present Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco

The National Law Enforcement Museum hosted the sixth event in its Witness to History panel discussion series, held at the Pew Charitable Trusts Building in Washington, DC, and sponsored by Target®. The event marked the first time that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—on the ground when the 50-day raid began in Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993—have spoken publicly about their role in this tragic case.

“We were honored to host yet another successful Witness to History event as part of our continuing series,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig Floyd, who moderated the panel discussion. “Our excellent panel provided valuable insight, and each panelist shared his unique perspective on this seminal moment in law enforcement history.”

Panel discussion included expert analysis and firsthand accounts from Bill Buford, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Little Rock Field Office; Pete Mastin, ATF (ret.) Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division; Jerry Petrilli, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Albuquerque Field Office; and Dick Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. A Q&A session allowed audience members to interact with the panelists at the end of the discussion.

Acting ATF Director, B. Todd Jones, was also in attendance and shared his thoughts on the events at Waco to open up the Q&A portion of the program. “This was the biggest gunfight involving federal law enforcement in the history of America,” he said. “The men who were there that day were all heroes, in my mind.”

Each of the agents on the panel shared insight into what they felt went wrong, as well as how ATF has improved operations as a result of what happened at Waco. According to Mr. Buford, “One thing that came as a result of Waco, was a strong contingency plan. We have that for every operation we run now.”

Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco was open to the public, with about 150 guests in attendance.  For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Witness to History program, visit