While Hollywood blockbusters such as the 1971 apocalyptic movie The Omega Man fascinated movie fans for many years, a real-life self-induced apocalypse rocked the community of Waco, Texas, in the early nineties. As a result, 86 people died, including agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), after authorities attempted to rein in members of the Branch Davidians and its cult leader David Koresh.
Over the years salivating media coverage has tried to depict the delusional mindset of the group via documentaries and television miniseries. The 1993 massacres will forever be synonymous with the city of Waco Texas.
Two Kings And A Throne
Branch Davidians, an offshoot and a splinter group of the “Davidians” believed they were chosen to restore the Davidic kingdom of Israel based on the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and its interpretations of the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Following the death of the cult’s leader Benjamin Roden in 1978, his wife Lois Roden succeeded him.
However, it wasn’t long before she was captivated by the alluring young Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, who was 40 years younger than her. Soon, the self-declared prophetess and her new protégé ensued into a sexual relationship under the guise of producing an heir apparent and offspring who would be the chosen one.
Predictably, Lois' son, George Roden, who had expected to ascend the throne after his mother’s death, declared war on the young protégé, following the group's split depending on their allegiance.
Despite Koresh’s being forced from the Mount Carmel compound to Palestine, Texas, the exiled leader was not ready to surrender to Roden. On Nov. 3, 1987, the young leader and his loyalists took up arms, including five 223 caliber semi-automatic rifles, two 12 gauge shotguns, two .22 caliber rifles, and 400 rounds of ammunition to retake the compound. Soon, a shootout ensued, leading Roden to suffer a gunshot wound until authorities showed up on the scene and arrested Koresh and his crew.
However, two years later, faith would provide Koresh the opportunity to usurp leadership after Roden was declared insane for bludgeoning one of his followers, Wayman Dale, with an ax. He claimed Dale was an assassin sent by Koresh to eliminate him after the victim proclaimed to be the next true messiah.
Child Abuse Or Illegal Arms Cache?
Though Koresh fathered many children by having sexual relations with minors, his arms cache placed him on the government’s radar. On Feb. 28, 1993, ATF agents descended on the 78-acre property to execute a warrant to search the property. Instead, they met a well-armed resistance which led to the death of four ATF agents and 16 others wounded. As a result, the Federal Bureau of Investigations took over the scene, which led to a 51-day siege that will forever capture the minds of the Waco community, every American, and the world.
A Time For War And Tragedy
Until April 19, 1993, the FBI raided the compound with the most sophisticated military force against a civilian group in the history of the United States.
According to VOX, “Ten Bradley tanks, two Abrams tanks, four combat-engineering vehicles, six hundred and sixty-eight agents in addition to six U.S. Customs officers, fifteen U.S. Army personnel, thirteen members of the Texas National Guard, thirty-one Texas Rangers, a hundred and thirty-one officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, seventeen from the McLennan County sheriff’s office, and eighteen Waco police, for a total of eight hundred and ninety-nine people,” were employed to put down the rebellion.
Koresh was eventually killed with most of his followers, making it one of the worst massacres recorded in U.S. history.
The Show Is Over
Is it really? Despite the tragedy and almost three decades later, here I am still writing about this fascinating history. Whether we like it or not, such interesting figures like Koresh and those who share similar beliefs are still among us today. The question is not whether the show is over, but is there a possibility of a sequel?
"We survivors of 1993 are looking for David and all those that died either in the shootout or in the fire. We believe that God will resurrect this special group," said 72-year-old Clive Doyle a decade after the incident, according to NPR.
Never again, we hope.
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