On Sunday, February 28, 1993, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to execute a search warrant at the property of the religious group Branch Davidians in Elk, Texas, nine miles east-northeast of Waco. The ATF was accompanied by members of the media. Fifty days later, on April 19, the siege ended.
Just after AFT attempted to serve the warrant, a gun battle erupted. Four agents and six Branch Davidian members were killed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation initiated the actual siege.
When a second assault was launched on April 19, fire engulfed the Mount Carmel Center. Seventy-six men, women and children, including leader David Koresh, died in the fire.
The initial warrant was part of an an investigation into illegal posession of firearms and explosives by the Branch Davidians. Evidence also suggested that Koreshhad fathered more than 12 children by several “wives” who were as young as 12 or 13.
The raid was seen as a disaster in terms of federal law enforcement and led to many changes within the ATF.
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said in a statement before The Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and the National Security International Affairs and Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, “this was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, probably one of the hardest decisions that anybody could have to make. It will live with me for the rest of my life. I’m accountable for it.”