Waco Siege Facts

Waco Siege Facts
The Waco Siege was a United States government siege against a splinter group of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, known as the Branch Davidians, outside of Waco, Texas from February 28 to April 19, 1993. The siege came after the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) conducted a months long investigation of the group and its leader, David Koresh, for keeping and selling illegal guns. When the ATF conducted an early morning raid on the morning of February 28, it resulted in a firefight that left four ATF and two Branch Davidians dead. A long siege then ensued that resulted in the FBI assaulting the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, which led to a fire that killed sixty-six Davidians, including twenty-three children. The public was initially on the side of the government, partly due to a series of articles titled "Sinful Messiah," written by Darlene McCormick and Mark England for the Waco Tribune Herald that portrayed the group as a bizarre cult. As more information emerged in the months after the siege, evidence that the government agencies acted too brazenly came to light. Other evidence showed that the ATF may have fired first, without identifying themselves, and that the FBI used unethical and possibly illegal tactics to end the siege. The Waco Siege helped galvanize the far-right in America at the time and is often cited as one of the reason for Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Interesting Waco Siege Facts:
The final casualty count of the Waco Siege was four government agents killed and sixteen wounded. Eighty-two Branch Davidians were killed during the course of the siege.
The Branch Davidians were founded as a Seventh Day Adventist splinter group by Victor Houteff in 1933. They were originally known as the "Davidian Seventh-day Adventist" church.
Mount Carmel was founded as the communal headquarters of the Branch Davidians in 1933. The physical buildings went through many different iterations before 1993.
David Koresh was born Vernon Howell in 1959. Howell had learning disabilities but an aptitude for scripture, music, and mechanics.
Howell legally changed his name in 1990 to David Koresh after David, the King of Judah in the Old Testament, and Cyrus, the King of Persia.
Koresh followed the Old Testament example of polygamy, but proscribed celibacy for most of his male followers.
The ATF investigation of the Branch Davidians began when a postal worker noticed all of their guns.
"Showtime" was the codename for the ATF raid on the compound, which included three helicopters and 100 agents.
Gary Noesner was the FBI agent originally in charge of negotiating with Koresh after the siege began, but eventually Dick Rogers of the Hostage Recovery Team took control.
The FBI used pyrotechnics on April 19, which probably caused the fire. They originally blamed the Davidians for intentionally starting the fire, but later admitted it was probably their devices that started it.
A Time magazine poll showed that 61% of the people polled in 1999 believed the government was to blame for the tragedy.
Eleven Davidians who left the compound after the initial ATF raid were charged with a plethora of felonies. Three were totally cleared, seven found guilty of manslaughter, with five additionally found guilty of firearms charges. Five of the Davidians were given forty year sentences, but those sentences were reduced in 2000 and the eleven are now all free.


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