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Today Marks The 20th Anniversary Of The Waco Siege

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Historically, April 19th is proving to be an important day in American history, for all of the wrong reasons.

In addition to being the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, this is also the twentieth anniversary of the end of the “Waco Siege,” when the FBI launched a raid on the Branch Davidians’ compound in Elk, Texas.

The site, located just outside of Waco, Texas, was the scene of a standoff between authorities and the religious sect, led by David Koresh.  The religious leader, along with 75 others including children, died in a fire that started soon after authorities tried to coerce members outside of the compound by using tear gas.

Although later reported that the fire was started by members of the Branch Davidians themselves, Timothy McVeigh, the man behind the Oklahoma City bombing, claimed that retaliation for the incident was behind his plan to blow up the offices of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms two years later.

The standoff began on February 28, 1993 when the ATF tried to raid the compound, resulting in a shootout that left ten people dead.  To this date it is unknown who fired the first shot.  Four ATF agents were among those killed.  At a Congressional hearing ATF agents said that Branch Davidians fired at law enforcement first.  However, there has also been speculation that an ATF agent shot a dog outside of the compound, unintentionally sparking the shootout.

The Branch Davidians have since claimed that Koresh was not a follower of their religion and that he illegally used their name.

The Attorney General at the time, Janet Reno, came under intense scrutiny following the siege and was questioned numerous times on the matter by Congress.

 

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