The standoff between federal agents and also the Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas, conquered headlines for months. The siege left 75 people – including kids – dead and readjusted the way some american felt about the federal government.

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On Feb. 28, 1993, federal law enforcement agents come face-to-face through the Branch Davidians, a controversial group whose followers defined themselves as “students the the Bible,” external the mountain Carmel compound, where about 130 of them lived.

The agents to be attempting come arrest leader David Koresh and also raid the group’s 77-acre facility when they began to exchange heavy gunfire in ~ the site. Through the finish of the shootout, four agents v the office of Alcohol, Tobacco, and also Firearms and six Branch Davidians were dead.

The failed operation then turned into a 51-day standoff. During that, Koresh and also most that his followers had refused to leaving the compound, i m sorry was surrounded by tanks, armored vehicles and an ext than 600 commonwealth agents. The standoff finished when a fire engulfed the complex on April 19, 1993. Only nine civilization inside survived. Movie critics called what occurred a Waco a massacre.

The collection of events, i beg your pardon gripped the country two decades ago, is currently the emphasis of paramount Network’s WACO, a six-part television miniseries the premieres Wednesday.

Here’s what to know about the Waco siege.

Who to be David Koresh?


Vernon Wayne Howell, well-known as David Koresh, his mam Rachel, and their son Cyrus in prior of their house

David Koresh, born Vernon Howell, to be the charismatic leader that the Branch Davidians, acquisition over regulate in 1987 after ~ the death of the group’s predecessor, follow to FBI records. Koresh had substantial knowledge of the Bible, believed he can speak to God and prophesized about the 2nd Coming that Christ and the imminent end of the world. Authorities said he effectively converted an ext than 100 people and also convinced them to live in his secluded compound near Waco ~ preaching his teachings transparent the U.S., Israel, Australia and great Britain. Koresh was thought about a very controversial number – no least due to the fact that he used his place in the team to have actually sex through multiple wives, including, according to the FBI, girls as young as 10.

What started the Waco standoff?

Federal authorities had evidence to imply Koresh was collecting a cache of weapons inside the mountain Carmel complex. The office of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms thought the community had practically 250 weapons, consisting of semi-automatic rifles, attack rifles, shotguns, revolvers, pistols and hundreds the grenades, records show.

The ATF want to arrest Koresh for unlawful possession that a destructive machine and search the 77-acre compound. Officials stated the Branch Davidians opened up fire ~ above the ATF agents an initial — a insurance claim which enduring members that the religious community refuse to this day. When the gunfight ended, there to be 10 complete casualties in total. The staying 62 adults and also 21 children, who refused to leave the mount Carmel compound, then started their standoff through the government.

How go the Waco standoff end?

During the 51-day standoff, the FBI had the ability to secure the relax of 44 people, follow to the agency’s records. Koresh had actually 117 conversations through FBI negotiators that lasted about 60 hours, authorities said. However negotiations stalled when Koresh delay his surrender, and tensions heightened top top April 19, 1993 when the FBI started moving your tanks closer come the complicated and throwing tear gas inside. Amid the chaos, a fire erupted and also engulfed the building.

Koresh was among the 75 world found dead in the consequences of the blaze. Numerous of the deceased had fatal gunshot wounds to the head, chest and face, authorities said. Koresh had a gunshot wound in the center of his forehead. Amongst those eliminated were a 3-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed in the chest and two other minors who experienced fatal blows come the head, according to the FBI.

David Thibodeau, one of only ripe Branch Davidian members to make it through the fire, called in a current interview that he trust the dead Branch Davidians were shot by the FBI. (The FBI cases no law enforcement officer had actually fired a solitary bullet because the early stage shootout.) Thibodeau claimed it’s also likely several of the Branch Davidians may have actually shot each other to prevent a slower, much more painful fatality in the fire.

Who started the fire?


The fire erupted from 3 separate places inside the compound, follow to the FBI. Who brought about the fire has remained a point of contention, return an elevation arson examination concluded the fire was began from in ~ the building. The FBI claims the people inside the facility deliberately started the flames, if the Branch Davidians argue the FBI was behind the blaze. Thibodeau said he steady believes nobody within the complex would have actually started the flames.

In a prolonged report forward the Waco events, the justice Department claimed the 51-day standoff in ~ the Branch Davidian compound was “unprecedented in the annals that American law enforcement.” “Never prior to have so numerous heavily armed and also totally committed individuals barricaded us in a strengthened compound in a direct an obstacle to lawful federal warrants,” the report said.

The high-profile event captivated Americans and also national media outlets as it unfolded throughout the 7 weeks and in the years following.

“The sun didn’t blacken, no one the moon turn red, however the people did come to an end, just as their prophet had actually promised,”’s Nancy Gibbs wrote at the

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WACO premieres Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET on great Network, previously Spike TV.