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Students find trouble at Mt. Carmel

Nov. 13, 1997

By Lori Lenarduzzi

Staff writer for The Baylor Lariat

Almost five years after the Branch Davidian disaster, there is still some fascination with the compound site.

Many students still go out there to find out what is so interesting about it. There have been some incidents where students have found more than they bargained for, though.

R.J. Flowers, a Grapevine freshman, said he thought it would be fun to visit Mt. Carmel, so he and seven others went out there one night. He said when they arrived, they saw a house and two signs. One read 'welcome,' while the other indicated there was a 24-hour security guard present.

Flowers and the other students did not see anyone, so they knocked on the sign, hoping that the security guard would come out and give them a tour.

'We didn't know that he didn't give tours at night,' Flowers said. 'We were just standing there and then all of a sudden, this man busts out of his house and starts yelling obscenities, telling us we were under arrest and chasing us. He said we were lucky he hadn't brought his gun out because he had shot at people before.'

The security guard, Thomas A. Drake, accused the students of spray painting his property, shooting guns, exploding dynamite, throwing knives and setting things on fire, said Shea Fraley, a Borger freshman, who also went with the group.

Flowers said they assured Drake that they (the group) had not done anything, and that they only wanted a tour. He informed the students that he did not give tours during evening hours, and that he had called the McLennan County Sheriff's Department on them.

Flowers said Drake then had the students write down their names and social security numbers. He informed them that criminal trespassing charges would be brought against them.

Approximately 20 minutes later, two sheriffs arrived and let the students go. There were no charges brought against them.

'We thought going out there would be fun, but it was really a lot more dangerous than we thought,' Fraley said.

Robert Riggs, a Plano sophomore, said that some students on his hall went to the compound site one night last year and had a similar experience.

'This group of guys came back terrified because the security guard had pulled a gun on them,' Riggs said. 'He grabbed one of the guys, pointed the handgun at him and told the rest of the group to freeze right where they were.'

Drake denied pointing a gun at anyone. He said some students had committed acts of vandalism on his property, but he had never brought a gun out.

'That is politically made up,' Drake said. 'I have heard all kinds of stories about me shooting at people and everything else. They are all false.'

Drake owns the sight where the compound once stood. Though it is private property, he does welcome visitors.

'I want people to know they are welcome as the sun shines, but I don't want anybody out here at night because it's dangerous,' Drake said. 'There are sink holes and snakes.'

Drake said his main purpose in giving tours of the compound site is to keep it open to the public in memory of the innocent dead.

'Anybody is welcome. It doesn't matter what their color, creed or religion is.'

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