Many cults seem to keep to themselves, in the sense that they don’t wish to draw attention to their group. However, the Branch Davidians didn’t appear to stick to this notion as their involvement in firearms ultimately led them to their tragic deaths.

David Koresh / Picture Credit: Biographics on YouTube

David Koresh / Picture Credit: Biographics on YouTube

Who was David Koresh?

In 1990, David Koresh became leader of the Branch Davidians. He and his followers built an ‘Army of God’; they stockpiled weapons in preparation for the apocalypse.

On February 28th, 1993, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided the Davidians’ compound outside Waco, Texas.

This resulted in a 51-day long siege that drew the attention of the entire nation. The standoff ended when the compound erupted in flames on April 19th. Koresh was found among the dead.

Early years

Koresh was born Vernon Wayne Howell to unwed teenage mother, Bonnie Clark, on August 17th, 1959 in Houston, Texas.

He spent much of his young life with his grandparents. Koresh attended the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In his senior year, Koresh dropped out of Garland high school in order to take a job in carpentry.

In his early 20s, Koresh spent a short time in Los Angeles, trying to ‘make it’ as a rock star.

He rejoined the Seventh-day Adventists after returning to Texas, but was kicked out for butting heads with Church leaders.

The Branch Davidians

In the early 80s, Koresh (then known as Howell) moved to Waco, Texas, and joined the Branch Davidians. He had an affair with the sect’s much older prophetess, Lois Roden. In 1984 he married a teenage member of the cult called Rachel Jones, who he would go on to have three children with.

When Roden passed away, Koresh and Roden’s son, George, would argue about who would take over the Davidians. Koresh left the sect with his followers and lived in eastern Texas for a time.

In ’87, Koresh and a handful of his devotees returned to Mount Carmel heavily armed, and shot Roden (who we can assume to mean George Roden, as Lois Roden had passed away). Roden survived the attack and Koresh, along with his group, were tried for attempted murder, but were later acquitted.

In 1990, he legally changed his name from Howell to Koresh (after the Persian king) and became the Branch Davidians’ leader. His teachings involved the practice of ‘spiritual weddings’, which enabled him to bed God-chosen females of any age. He fathered perhaps a dozen children with members of the cult, other than his legal wife.

The Waco Siege

As leader of the Branch Davidians, Koresh declared that he had cracked the code of the Seven Seals in the Book of Revelation, which predicted the events leading to the Apocalypse.

He told his followers that the Lord willed the Branch Davidians to build an ‘Army of God’; as a result, they began to stockpile weapons.

On February 28th, 1993, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the group’s Mount Carmel compound outside Waco, Texas. A four-hour-long gunfight left six of Koresh’s followers and four Bureau agents dead; this led into a 51-day standoff between Koresh and Federal agents.

On April 19th the FBI launched a tank and tear gas assault on Mount Carmel. Hours later, fired spread throughout the compound, killing over six dozen residents.

Koresh was among the deceased, having shot himself in the head.

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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