80+ died in standoff at Waco cult compound 23 years ago

FILE - Fire engulfs the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, in this April 19, 1993 file photo. Some who survived the fiery end to the 51-day standoff at the Branch Davidians' Central Texas compound are to gather for a memorial service on the 20th anniversary of the fire Friday April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin, File)

WACO, Texas (KXAN) — Tuesday marks the 23 anniversary of the 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian Compound East of Waco.

** FILE ** This 1998 file photo shows Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in a police line-up following a gun battle with former Davidians. The mother of infamous Branch Davidian sect leader David Koresh has been stabbed to death, and Koresh's aunt was in custody on a murder charge Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald)
This 1998 file photo shows Branch Davidian leader David Koresh. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald)

The seven-week standoff ended April 19, 1993 between followers of David Koresh and the FBI. The compound caught fire after the FBI used tanks to tear down the walls and smash their way in.

Part of the fight with FBI was over who owned the land the Davidians called home. The 77-acre property was burned to the ground during the dispute.

82 Davidians died, including two dozen children and the sect leader David. Additionally, four federal agents were killed in the fiery standoff.

A survivor of the Branch Davidian Compound fire told prosecutors in 1993 the cult members took a suicide oath. Marjorie Thomas said if their leader, David Koresh, died, they made a pact to kill themselves. This was the first time anyone from the cult confirmed the FBI’s suspicions of a suicide pact.

KXAN ‘s Robert Hadlock was there covering the compound’s battle with the FBI in 1993.


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