Beginning on February 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), attempted to raid the Mount Carmel Center ranch near Waco, Texas where a compound of more than 80 Branch Davidians, a Protestant Christian sect led by a man named David Koresh.
Accused of stockpiling illegal weapons–among other accusations of child abuse and polygamy–Koresh led his followers under the idea that he was the chosen messiah of God, and that they must start preparing an “Army for God”.
After obtaining search and arrest warrants for Koresh, the ATF attempted to execute the raid, only to find out the Davidians had been tipped off. It is not known who fired the first round of shots, but after an intense gun battle, four agents and six Davidians were killed.
The FBI then launched a long-term siege, attempting to negotiate with Koresh and force him to surrender his property. Being worried about the continued child abuse, newly appointed U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, finally got approval after the 51-day standoff, to carryout a gas attack on the ranch.
On April 19, 1993 (20 years ago today), after launching tear gas into the compound and asking Branch Davidians to exit, three fires broke out leading to the death of nearly 80 people, including David Koresh.
The events at Mt. Carmel spurred major controversy between government and the Branch Davidians, stating that religious and personal freedoms were not upheld. Nothing remains of the buildings today, other than cement foundation components. Only a small chapel remains on the site, built years after the siege.
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