On February 28, 1993, the nation watched as an assault on a cult compound in Waco, Texas, played out on live television. The standoff between federal law enforcement agents and the Branch Davidian Church came to a fiery end 51 days later.
In the siege, 82 church members died as well as four agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Todd McKeehan was one of the ATF agents killed in the line of duty. The native East Tennessean was just 28 years old.
On this 25th observance of the siege Todd McKeehan's brother Brad remembers his life and legacy.
Growing up, Todd was his hero.
“I wanted to grow up and be just like Todd,” said Brad McKeehan. “He was just a normal kid, but you could tell at an early age he was definitely driven to succeed.”
Todd graduated from East Tennessee State University with two degrees. He volunteered in the Marine Reserve and served in Desert Storm. He eventually found a career in the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“He just felt like that was what he was called to do," Brad McKeehan said. "It wasn’t very long before he was ascending through the ranks as one of their special entry team agents. So that’s what led him to Waco.”
On February 28, 1993, Todd and fellow members of the elite unit were dispatched to Waco, Texas, on a secret mission. Early that Sunday, the ATF launched a raid on the Branch Davidian compound.
Religious cult leader David Koresh and more than 100 members of the church were holed up inside.
They were accused of illegally stockpiling weapons.
Todd and his fellow agents rushed the compound when bullets started flying. A fierce gun battle broke out between the officers and the Branch Davidians. At 9:30 later that morning, Brad got a call from Todd’s wife.
“It took her several minutes to tell me Todd was involved in Waco and it was actually being filmed on the news live," Brad recalled.
"She told me that Todd had been killed.”
Days later, Todd returned to his East Tennessee home a fallen hero.
Over the past 25 years, the events of the Waco siege have been documented in movies, news stories and memories.
On a wall in his parents’ house there is a memorial to Todd with pictures spanning his 28 years.
The ATF’s Medal of Honor and Medal of Valor hang proudly.
In his hometown of Elizabethton, a bridge bears his name. But his little brother Brad says Todd’s true legacy carries on in the lives of people he never had the opportunity to meet. His niece, nephew and children of three of his best friends share his name.
“That’s his legacy. That’s his legacy," Brad McKeehan said.
Check out the 1993 story in the WBIR Vault on YouTube: