Tragedy at Waco Turns 30

Posted on May 22, 2023 by


On April 19, 1993, the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, burned to the ground.

The Compound burning down was the last stage in the bloody 51-day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the federal government.

The tragic event started on February 28, 1993. It began with a local news reporter who had been tipped about the raid asking a mailman for directions to the compound. The mailman asked why he wanted to go there, and the news reporter responded honestly that there was going to be an ATF raid at the compound. 

Little did the news reporter know that mailman was David Jones, a Branch Davidian. Jones quickly went to the cabin and alerted David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, that a raid was coming.

Shortly after the ATF arrived at the compound, gunfire broke out. It is not known for sure who started the shooting first, with each side claiming the other.

The justification for the raid was that the Branch Davidians owned illegal weapons. In addition, David Koresh was abusing children. The government also falsely claimed the Branch Davidians were manufacturing methamphetamine in the compound.

The standoff would go until April 19th. During the interval, the government (by this point, the FBI was involved too) would try psychological torture techniques such as shining bright lights and playing loud noises while the Branch Davidians were in the compound.

On the last day of the 51-day standoff, the government called the compound. Steve Schneider (Koresh’s closest associate at the compound) answered the phone.

He was informed that the FBI was about to tear gas the compound and that the Branch Davidians should not defend themselves against the FBI because it was “not an assault.”

About 6 hours after the call, the compound burned, killing 76 people, 28 of whom were women and children.

The government has faced much criticism for its handling of Waco. Many have argued that the ATF only raided the compound to make a show, citing the evidence that, if Koresh was their target (as they stated), they could have arrested him when he was jogging on the road, which he did every day, or when he was about town, which he regularly was.

For the thirtieth anniversary of the Waco siege, two new TV miniseries are coming out. One is the Netflix documentary series “WACO: American Apocalypse”; the other is the TV show drama “Waco: The Aftermath,” a sequel to the 2018 show “Waco.”

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Posted in: Jacob Rauenzahn