Friday, May. 20, 2011

The Branch Davidians

David Koresh led his Branch Davidian sect, an unsanctioned offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to its doom in a compound near Waco, Texas, in 1993. How did he do that? He convinced his followers that he was Christ and that they should hole up at what was called the Mount Carmel Center to prepare for the end of the world. Their ideas were based on the beliefs of an earlier Adventist splinter group.

When authorities learned that the Branch Davidians were allegedly holding a trove of weapons on the site and that there were possibly instances of abuse of women and children, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a search on the compound in February 1993. The Davidians fought back; four agents were killed as well as six members of the sect. Koresh persuaded his followers to remain at Mount Carmel and refuse to surrender. For 50 days, a tense standoff ensued. On April 19, the FBI stormed the compound, a fire erupted (the source of which is still debated), and dozens of Davidians, including Koresh, died in the building.