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Siege at Waco: The Apocalyptic End of Failed Rock Star-Turned-Cult Leader David Koresh (FPD CASE VAULT)

Siege at Waco: David Koresh's Cult Rubs Out 4 Federal Agents
Source: AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald

This 1998 file photo shows Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in a police line-up following a gun battle with former Davidians.

Sep. 21 2023, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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Failed rock star-turned-cult leader David Koresh led his fervent followers to their fiery deaths after a tense 51-day standoff with federal agents at their Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas.

On Feb. 28, 1993, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stormed the religious sect's sprawling complex to arrest Koresh for stockpiling weapons and explosives.

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Siege at Waco: David Koresh's Cult Rubs Out 4 Federal Agents
Source: BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images

Offcials swarmed to the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas, during a standoff that ended in fames and the death of Koresh along with about 80 of his followers

But during the raid, a gun battle broke out when the 33-year-old zealot and his followers fired on the officers, killing four agents. Six members of the cult also died in the frenzied firefight.

The agents withdrew and a tense 51-day standoff that made international headlines followed.

Siege at Waco: David Koresh's Cult Rubs Out 4 Federal Agents
Source: BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP/Getty Images

A tank roaring through the compound during the standoff.

The Branch Davidians, who believed an apocalypse was nearing, barricaded themselves inside Mount Carmel, the main building of the complex as federal agents surrounded them.

But on April 19, fearful the Davidians would commit mass suicide, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a full-scale assault on the compound.

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Siege at Waco: David Koresh's Cult Rubs Out 4 Federal Agents
Source: Greg Smith/Corbis

The Mount Carmel compound near Waco, where heavily armed Branch Davidian cultists had been surrounded by federal agents for 51 days, burns the afternoon of April 19, 1993.

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Around 6 a.m., agents bulldozed their way into the building and fired tear gas inside to smoke the cult out.

But by noon, several fires flared inside the wooden structure, and the building became totally engulfed in flames.

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SHOT THEMSELVES

Siege at Waco: David Koresh's Cult Rubs Out 4 Federal Agents
Source: AP/Shutterstock

The cult leader with wife Rachel and son Cyrus, died in the final assault.

When the smoke cleared, the bodies of Koresh and 76 followers, including 20 children, were discovered in the ruins.

Government officials blamed the Davidians, claiming they set the fatal fire and shot themselves. But survivors claim the fire was ignited by tear gas canisters lobbed by federal agents. The debacle triggered the Oklahoma City bombing two years later.

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