This day in History: February 28, Waco Raid

(Courtesy Photo)

February 28, 1993, The ATF raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas for weapon stockpiling and other crimes.

The Branch Davidians, a sect that separated in 1955 from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was led by David Koresh and was headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch 13 miles east-northeast of Waco.

Karesh claimed to be the next messiah.

An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the FBI, the standoff lasting 51 days.

Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. In total, 76 people died, including David Koresh.

Much dispute remains as to the actual events of the siege. A particular controversy ensued over the origin of the fire; an internal Justice Department investigation concluded in 2000 that sect members had started the fire.

The events near Waco, and the siege at Ruby Ridge less than twelve months earlier, were both cited as the primary motivations behind the Oklahoma City bombing that took place exactly two years later.

To read a firsthand account of the events of that day, read Brian Blansett’s “A Deadly ATF Raid on Branch Davidian Compound Recalled by Eyewitness” at, an award-winning journalist and Pulitzer finalist, owns the “Tri-County Herald” and “The Stroud American.”

He was also an adjunct professor for Oklahoma Baptist University several years ago and will be on campus Thursday, February 29, to meet with OBU journalism students and discuss the events of that day.

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