What Caused the Waco Massacre of 1993?


Quick Answer

Tensions between a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation caused the massacre during 1993's Waco siege. After a 51-day siege, government forces fired CS gas, a form of tear gas, into the compound to flush the members of the religious sect out of the compound. Several fires started shortly thereafter, causing the death of almost all remaining members of the sect.

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Full Answer

David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, led the Branch Davidians, a religious sect which believed in a series of modern prophets or messiahs in addition to traditional Scripture. Koresh was the proclaimed prophet under whom the sect took on many of the characteristics that caused observers to refer it to as a cult, including enforced celibacy for male members with the sole exception of Koresh, and the sexual access of Koresh to any woman in the sect, including married and underage women.

The Branch Davidians believed in a rapidly oncoming end of the world, as detailed in the Bible's Book of Revelation. Under Koresh's leadership, the sect began building an "Army of God," preparing for the oncoming apocalypse by stockpiling weapons, which attracted the attention of government agents. A shootout ensued, which led to the 51-day siege that ended with the Branch Davidian compound on fire and the members of the sect refusing to come out, resulting in the deaths of 74 people.

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