30 Years Ago: FBI moves to end standoff at Mt. Carmel; Davidian leader among dozens killed in blazing inferno

Around 6 a.m. on April 19, 1993, FBI agents moved in to end a 51-day standoff with the Branch...
Around 6 a.m. on April 19, 1993, FBI agents moved in to end a 51-day standoff with the Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco, ramming holes in the group’s compound with armored vehicles and spraying tear gas inside. About six hours later, smoke poured from the compound, which soon was consumed by a massive fire. Dozens, including sect leader David Koresh, were killed during the fire and gunfight that day.(AP photo and file jail booking photo)
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 11:29 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

McLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX & AP) - 30 years ago on April 19, 1993, FBI agents moved in to end a 51-day standoff with the Branch Davidian religious sect at Mount Carmel near Elk in rural McLennan County, a siege that resulted in a blazing inferno that killed at least 80 people inside the complex, including about two dozen teens and children.

Sect leader David Koresh was among the dead, according to federal authorities.

At about 6 a.m., federal agents began using armored vehicles to ram holes in the Branch Davidian compound. The agents also sprayed tear gas inside. Hours later, the compound was consumed by a massive fire.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: THE SIEGE: 30 YEARS LATER (KWTX archive footage and special reports)

The standoff started on Feb. 28, 1993, when federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents tried to arrest sect leader Koresh for stockpiling illegal weapons. Four agents and six Davidians were killed during the gunfight that day.

The federal government said the deadly fire on April 19, 1993, was ignited by the Davidians.

According to report by a former senator appointed by the attorney general in 2000, the Davidians spread fuel throughout the compound to feed the flames.

Nine people escaped the burning building, but dozens more died in the blaze. The report by federal authorities noted that because of the “extensive burning” and “commingling of bodies,” the exact number of people killed by the fire could not be determined.

The report concluded that at least 20 people, including Koresh and some of the children, died of gunshot wounds. Investigators, according to the report, concluded the Davidians shot themselves or each other as the fire broke out.

FILE - This May 12, 1993, file photo, shows the charred remains of the Branch Davidian's...
FILE - This May 12, 1993, file photo, shows the charred remains of the Branch Davidian's 77-acre ranch east of Waco, Texas. Doomsday cult leader David Koresh's apocalyptic vision came true when the fire believed set by his followers destroyed their prairie compound as federal agents tried to drive them out with tear gas after a 51-day standoff. As many as 86 members of the Branch Davidian religious sect, including Koresh and 24 children, were thought to have died as the flames raced through the wooden buildings in 30 minutes. Only nine were known to have survived.(Charles Bennett | (AP Photo/Charles Bennett, File))


Katherine Andrade, 24, Chanel Andrade, 1, Jennifer Andrade, 19, George Bennett, 35, British, Susan Benta, 31, British, Mary Jean Borst, 49, Pablo Cohen, 38, Israeli, Abedowalo Davies, 30, British, Shari Doyle, 18, Beverly Elliot, 30, British, Yvette Fagan, 32, British.

Also: Doris Fagan, 51, British, Lisa Marie Farris, 24, Raymond Friesen, 76, Canadian, Sandra Hardial, 27, British, Zilla Henry, 55, British, Vanessa Henry, 19, British, Phillip Henry, 22, British, Paulina Henry, 24, British, Stephen Henry, 26, British, Diana Henry, 28, British, Novellette Hipsman, 36, Canadian and Floyd Houtman, 61.

Also: Sherri Jewell, 43, David M. Jones, 38, David Koresh, 33, Rachel Koresh, 24, Cyrus Koresh, 8, Star Koresh, 6, Bobbie Lane Koresh, 2, Jeffery Little, 32, Nicole Gent Little, 24, and unborn child, Australian, Dayland Gent, 3, Page Gent, 1, Livingston Malcolm, 26, British, Diane Martin, 41, British, Wayne Martin, Sr., 42, Lisa Martin, 13, Sheila Martin, Jr., 15, Anita Martin, 18, and Wayne Martin, Jr., 20.

Also: Julliete Martinez, 30, Crystal Martinez, 3, Isaiah Martinez, 4, Joseph Martinez, 8, Abigail Martinez, 11, Audrey Martinez, 13, John-Mark McBean, 27, British, Bernadette Monbelly, 31, British, Rosemary Morrison, 29, British, Melissa Morrison, 6, British, Sonia Murray, 29, Theresa Nobrega, 48, British, James Riddle, 32, Rebecca Saipaia, 24, Phillipino, Steve Schneider, 43, Judy Schneider, 41, Mayanah Schneider, 2, Clifford Sellors, 33, British.

Scott Kojiro Sonobe, 35, Floracita Sonobe, 34, Phillipino, Gregory Summers, 28, Aisha Gyrfas Summers, 17, and unborn child, and Startle Summers, 1.

Also: Lorraine Sylvia, 40, Rachel Sylvia, 12, Hollywood Sylvia, 1, Michelle Jones Thibodeau, 18, Serenity Jones, 4, Chica Jones, 2, Little One Jones, 2, Neal Vaega, 38, New Zealander, Margarida Vaega, 47, New Zealander and Mark H. Wendell, 40.


U.S. House Report

Treasury Dept. report

FBI report