The Waco siege, also known as the Waco massacre, was the law enforcement siege of the compound that belonged to the religious cult Branch Davidians. It was carried out by the U.S. federal government and Texas state law enforcement between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians were led by David Koresh and were headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Axtell, Texas, 13 miles (21 kilometers) northeast of Waco. Suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Koresh as well as a select few of the group's members.
The ATF had intended a sudden daylight raid of the ranch in order to serve a search and arrest warrant, with the element of surprise meant to allow for the quick control of the situation, reducing the risk to all parties that would be associated with the group's members using the large cache of modified weapons and explosive devices they had available. Any advantage of surprise was lost when a KWTX-TV reporter who had been tipped off about the raid asked for directions from a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who was coincidentally Koresh's brother-in-law. Thus, the group's members were fully armed and prepared; an intense gunfight erupted, resulting in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF's entering of the property and failure to execute the search warrant, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Eventually, the FBI launched a tear gas attack on April 19, 1993, in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. Shortly thereafter, the Mount Carmel Center became engulfed in flames. The fire resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Koresh. In total, the 51-day siege resulted in the deaths of four federal agents and 82 Branch Davidians, 28 of whom children.