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Leading Off (4/19/13)

Full Extent of Losses in West Still Unknown. Because of volatile chemicals on the site of fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night, some areas remain too dangerous for emergency workers to venture into. That’s partly to blame for official casualty counts being difficult to come by. As I type this, various media outlets are reporting anywhere from 10 to 40 fatalities, and I imagine that range will change further by the time you read this. (I’m grateful that the estimates now seem generally smaller than the 60-70 deaths reported the night of the event.) We know the names of some who were lost, first responders who rushed to the scene of the fire at the plant. Among them was Capt. Kenny Harris of Dallas Fire-Rescue, who lived in West.

20th Anniversary of Branch Davidian Standoff.  It was April 19, 1993, when the world watched a different compound not far from Waco burn. Cult leader David Koresh and 73 of his followers perished in the flames, ending a 51-day standoff with the federal government.  One of the survivors, Clive Doyle, spoke with the Star-Telegram. He still has faith in Koresh: “I believe he was a manifestation, yes, of God taking on flesh,” Doyle said. “God has done that more than once.”

Eric Williams Charged With Kaufman County DA Murders. Williams was formally charged with capital murder the day after his wife Kim confessed to her role in the slayings of Kaufman County district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and prosecutor Mark Hasse. Authorities say Williams was behind an email confession that threatened more violence. Based on the affidavit, he may have been so concerned about covering up his crimes that he gave police more evidence to use against him. He “recently asked a friend how to get rid of specific gun parts. Those are parts that ballistics experts can use to link a weapon to a crime.”

“He’s the smartest guy in the room, and that’s ultimately what got him into trouble,” County Judge Bruce Wood said in an interview.