Waco Siege Ends
The 19th of April 1993 AD
The world watched as the American authorities – the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, and the Texas National Guard among others – laid siege to the members of the Branch Davidian sect at Mt Carmel near Waco. But this was not merely an American event: 33 Britons were present; several Australians and New Zealanders too.
The community at Mt Carmel was a particular extreme offshoot of a breakaway Seventh Day Adventists sect. The group’s charismatic leader, David Koresh, was said to have had sex with several girls in the community well below the age of consent. There was also evidence of a build-up of weaponry that included illegal conversion of some arms to machine-guns.
One Briton, Winston Blake, had died during the first abortive raid on the centre, a mix of stronghold, ranch, church and commune. Twenty-three more died as the events escalated, culminating in the assault which used tanks on April 19 1993.
There are many claims and counter-claims about the final assault, particularly over three fires which killed many in the compound, though it is highly probable that these were set on Koresh’s orders; and over what ended as the destruction of buildings by armoured vehicles – supposedly creating exits for those trapped, though many were crushed as walls fell about them. And since the fateful battle conspiracy theorists have had a field-day, not least because extraordinarily the site, a major crime-scene, was bull-dozed in early May.
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