In February, 1993, the eyes of the world converged on Mount Carmel, a small religious community located just outside Waco, TX. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) had just conducted a massive raid on David Koresh and his followers, known as the Branch Davidians. After what became the longest gun battle in U.S. law enforcement history, four ATF agents and six civilians were dead and dozens more were wounded. A 51-day standoff ensued, and the conflict ended after an FBI assault led to a fire that engulfed Mount Carmel, killing 76 men, women, and children.
What precipitated the ATF raid, and what transpired over the ensuing standoff, remains one of the most misunderstood stories in American history. Waco is based on two biographies, “A Place Called Waco,” by Branch Davidian David Thibodeau, one of the nine survivors of the final fire on April 19, 1993, and “Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator,” written by the FBI’s Head of Crisis Negotiation Unit Gary Noesner.
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The Waco siege was a siege of a compound belonging to the group Branch Davidians by American federal and Texas state law enforcement and US military between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and lived at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Elk, Texas, nine miles (14 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. The group was suspected of weapons violations, causing a search and arrest warrant to be obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. In total, 76 people died, including David Koresh.
The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.
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