In 1995, FRONTLINE obtained access to the Waco files — 7,000 government photographs, wiretaps and hundreds of hours of telephone negotiation tapes that had never been publicly revealed. All of the remaining 25 children perished. Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture. Some were girls as young as 12 years old. In order to produce those children, he mandated that his male followers become celibate, even those who were married, and took multiple “wives” from the ranks of his followers. It was originally published on the 20th anniversary of the standoff in 2013. These 8 Films Offer Context. STEVE SCHNEIDER: [surveillance tape] Byron, I liked — man, what a person. There was a high level of frustration. FBI agents told FRONTLINE that any Branch Davidians who wanted to leave the compound had to undergo an “exit interview” with Koresh, who would remind the wayward follower that to abandon him was to reject salvation. Meanwhile, authorities gathered what is thought to be the most powerful military force assembled against American civilians. I asked when I first heard that for them to verify it and, again, that was the report that was brought back. “There has been a lot of speculation if this is a mass suicide or not. So who told her? The following day, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tried to execute a search warrant at Mount Carmel. He does not buy off on his own con.”. Koresh’s deputy had a theology degree, and another was an attorney. The compound didn’t cool down until a week later. They believe that at the end of days, Koresh and their loved ones will all be resurrected as martyrs. Fires were lit, and the ATF began to assault the compound with military-style vehicles. On February 28, 1993 federal BATF agents arrived at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. A total of 76 Branch Davidians were dead, many of which were women and children. The FBI stormed the compound with tear gas, and after this assault, a fire broke out. Koresh didn’t permit any more in-person meetings. Awaiting Election Results, the U.S. Set a New Daily COVID Record. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied. This marked the first tragedy to take place in what later became known as the Waco siege, a 51-day long battle between the authorities — including FBI and ATF agents and military personnel — and the members of the cult. “And I said, ‘No, I blame God. You brought a bunch of guys out here and —. She’s described a life of fear within the compound. Convinced that Koresh might eventually surrender, the negotiators kept talking to Koresh, offering him opportunities to broadcast his message on the radio and television. Roden ended up shot in the head and chest, and Koresh and his men were charged with attempted murder. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules: Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. He prophesied that he would have 24 children who would play an integral role in the end times. Roden was wounded in the gunfire, and Koresh won control of Mount Carmel. I’m at Mount Carmel Center! First, the undercover agent within the Branch Davidian compound had been found out, and the religious group knew that the ATF was coming. FBI negotiators secured the release of some Davidians, though many more remained inside the compound. I believe he was 100 percent sincere. In 1993, the FBI faced off against an obscure religious sect called the Branch Davidians in a weeks-long siege that ended in tragedy. 1st DAVIDIAN: [surveillance tape] Start the fire? DAVID KORESH: — the notorious. Born in 1959, Koresh grew up in Houston, Texas, the son of a single mother. KORESH: I am saying that no man can know me nor my father unless they open their book and give a fair chance in honesty and equity to see the seals. Waco premieres January 24th at 10 p.m. on the Paramount Network. Regardless, a gun battle ensued. Around 20 of those were killed by gunshots, which were possible mercy killings when they were no longer able to escape the building. Koresh was a high school dropout and drifter before he joined the Branch Davidians, but once in the group, he declared himself a prophet. “But on the other hand, we do believe that the Devil is in control of the nations of the world, and that they are merging toward what the Bible calls Babylon the Great.”.