A major tragedy happened at Waco in the Spring of 1993. There is a general consensus
that the sequence of events included:
The ATF decided to arrest David Koresh on firearms violations. He could have been easily
arrested away from the compound while jogging or while visiting Waco. But apparently it
was necessary for them to arrest him at the compound near the guns in order to have a
chance of winning a court case.
A group of 76 armed ATF agents entered the compound on 1993-FEB-28 and attempted to
serve a search warrant
A shot was heard; it is unclear whether it was an accidental firing by an ATF agent, or
an intentional or accidental discharge from within the buildings.
In the resultant firefight, 6 Davidians and 4 ATF agents died; at least one Davidian and
24 agents were wounded.
The ATF withdrew. The FBI took charge; a 51 day siege followed.
Based on a report from a psychiatrist at the Baylor College of Medicine, the FBI
believed that the Branch Davidian children were being sexually and physically abused
inside the compound. (The FBI has since acknowledged that the report was false. It is
apparently based on false memories implanted in the children).
The FBI consulted a number of experts on new religious movements with knowledge about
destructive cults, who warned of a high probability of mass murder or suicide if
aggressive action was taken. The FBI also consulted a number of
psychiatrists who had no
specialized experience with doomsday cults, who assured the FBI that the chances of major
loss of life was slim. They also received advise from members of the Anti-cult
movement. The Bureau decided that it was safe to attack the compound with
tear gas. The FBI seem to have ignored the religious experts and accepted the beliefs of
The FBI emergency response team had been at the site for almost 2 months. If the siege
lasted much longer, then the team would be in need of refresher training; there was no
About 6 AM, two incendiary tear-gas grenades were fired at a concrete
bunker some distance from the frame buildings of the compound. They
bounced off the roof and fizzled out harmlessly in a nearby puddle.
About 12 o'clock noon, specially adapted tanks approached the building to penetrate the walls
and inject a form of tear gas inside. A group of fires started almost simultaneously in different locations within the
compound; they combined to form a great conflagration.
8 followers were able to escape during the attack; many were severely burned.
Koresh and about 75 of his followers [numbers differ in various sources] died of stab
wounds, gun shots, and from the effects of smoke and flames. This included 21 children.
5 followers were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and firearms violations. Two others
were convicted of arms charges.
Later, a video has been distributed which appears to show a flame-throwing tank
igniting the compound. This has been proven to be a fake: a forged picture of a flame
superimposed in a film laboratory on top of actual footage of the tanks at Waco. The
latter was taken about 2 hours before the fire.
Whenever a high-profile and tragic event occurs (e.g. the assassination of President
Kennedy, the bombing at Oklahoma City, etc.) facts become mixed with fantasies. Waco is no
exception; the truth will probably remain unknown. There have been many individuals and
groups who have disseminated information of varying quality, including:
surviving members of the Branch Davidians still faithful to David Koresh's beliefs
We believe that none of the above are reliable sources of information. Some seem to
have intentionally disseminated misinformation in order to further their own agendas
and/or to protect themselves and/or to project their religion in a very positive or
negative light. Others have given versions of events as they remember them to be, but
which may have been colored by their intense emotional involvement.
It is difficult to separate fact from fiction, although rumors of attacks by helicopter
gun ships do seem most improbable, and flame throwing tanks have been proven to be a hoax.
We feel that the main fundamental, preventable causes of the tragedy were:
David Koresh refused to recognize a government search warrant.
David Koresh and the FBI were unable to communicate effectively.
Koresh and his followers anticipated death at the hands of government agents; most were
willing to commit suicide rather than surrender.
The FBI ignored the advice of new religious movement experts; they accepted the advice of
mental health professionals who had no specialized knowledge of destructive/doomsday
cults. They also relied on anti-cult movement specialists.
The FBI believed (incorrectly) that children were being abused.
Many of the Branch Davidian parents refused to recognize the danger and send their
children out of the compound to safety.