In May of 1992, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) were informed that Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, a religious group who believed the apocalypse was imminent, had received a large shipment of firearms, inert grenades, and possible explosive precursors. In February of 1993, they obtained a warrant to arrest Koresh, as well as several other Davidians, and to search the Mount Carmel Centre Ranch (the headquarters of the Davidians). An intense gun battle erupted on February 28th, when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch, which resulted in the death of four government agents and six Davidians. A siege was then initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lasting 51 days until April 19th, when they launched an assault on the complex. Their plan was to forcibly remove the Davidians using CS gas, however, during the attack, fire engulfed the compound, killing approximately 74 people (this number excludes two unborn children and is an approximation because of the extensive burning and commingling of the bodies).
Since the incident, many, including Academy Award-nominated documentaries, have accused the US government of pinning children in a burning building with gunfire, using helicopters to shoot at people from above, and deliberately setting fire to Mount Carmel. Over the next month, I plan to publish a series of blog posts investigating these accusations to see if they have any merit, but first, here is a brief history of David’s rise to power.