They fought the law and the law kept winning : fifty-one days at Mount Carmel

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jenifer Bianchi (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Robert Toplin

Abstract: On February 28, 1993, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided a communal church outside of Waco, Texas in an attempt to serve a search warrant for suspected weapons violations. At the raid were several members of the local media, who had been contacted by the BATF to gain publicity. Members of the church, however, knew of the raid beforehand, and a gun fight broke between the two groups. Four agents lost their lives in the fight, which had been taped and broadcast nationally. Those inside the church refused to exit the building. Angry over the refusal to surrender and embarrassed that a federal agency was defeated in a gun fight on national television, the Federal Bureau of Investigations took control of the situation, cutting communication from the church, subjecting church members to psychological warfare, demonizing those in the church through the media, and preparing for a final confrontation with the church using military weapons and vehicles. On April 19, 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s plan to remove people from the church be executed. The FBI and members of the Army’s Special Forces, using tanks, mortars, and grenades, subjected those inside the church to a six hour tear gas assault, and destroyed parts of the building. Finally, three fires destroyed the church, killing nearly eighty men, women, and children, in what the FBI labeled a “mass suicide”. Whether or not this claim was true, a deep seeded desire for revenge led to poor decisionmaking by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and Department of Justice, which, in turn, led to the deaths of the people inside the church on April 19, 1993. Because of the embarrassment of the initial raid, the government agencies’ need to save face and justify their dead meant a violent outcome was most likely

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Branch Davidians, Governmental investigations--United States, Koresh David 1959-1993, Law enforcement--United States, Searches and seizures--Texas--Waco, United States Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, Waco Branch Davidian Disaster Tex. 1993
Waco Branch Davidian Disaster, Tex., 1993
Branch Davidians
Koresh, David, 1959-1993
United States. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Searches and seizures -- Texas -- Waco
Law enforcement -- United States
Governmental investigations -- United States

Email this document to