FederalGunsIssuesTexas HistoryProminent Survivor of Waco Siege, Branch Davidian Sect Member Clive Doyle, Died at Age 81

In 1993, a botched raid of a religious compound near Waco resulted in a fire that killed dozens of adults and children.
July 18, 2022
Clive Doyle, a prominent survivor of the 51-day Waco siege that ended in the deaths of dozens of people, died last month at age 81, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

The tragic deaths followed a raid on a religious compound near Waco by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and other U.S. agencies that ended on April 19, 1993, in a fire that killed up to 25 children and 51 adults, members of the Branch Davidians. Some are said to have died from gunshot wounds inflicted on themselves or other compound residents.

Doyle was among only nine survivors. His 18-year-old daughter, Shari, was among those who perished.

The Branch Davidians separated from the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the 1930s. At the time of the siege, the group — which has been characterized as a cult — was under the leadership of David Koresh, who had legally changed his name from Vernon Howell years earlier.

The Tribune-Herald reported that Doyle was a native of Australia who had lived in the Waco area since 1966 and had even led a remaining group of Branch Davidians after the fateful siege. He served as a source for reporters and others across the globe for information on the religious sect and the events of that day, according to the newspaper.

The Texan Tumbler

The cause of the fire and the manner of death of the victims remain controversial. The U.S. government maintains that sect members started the fire as part of a suicide attempt, while Doyle and other former members of the group contended that they did not know of any plans for a mass suicide.

Janet Reno, the attorney general of the U.S. during the Clinton administration, authorized the use of tear gas in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the building. Reno later stated that she regretted her decision.

On its website, the ATF conceded that “some tactics and decisions were poorly executed,” but maintains that “the heavily armed, cult members were waiting in ambush” on February 28, 1993, the day of the initial confrontation that resulted in the deaths of four federal officers and six members of Koresh’s group. 

In 2000, a federal jury acquitted Doyle of murder conspiracy charges.

The ATF points to the search warrants and arrest warrants it was seeking to execute as it suspected Koresh and his followers of stockpiling illegal weapons, among other suspected unlawful activities.

The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time, William Sessions, had received both his undergraduate and law degrees from nearby Baylor University.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."