On This Day, Feb. 28, 1993 – The Waco, Texas Siege Begins


1993U.S. Federal agents raided the compound of an armed religious cult in Waco, TX. David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, thought he was an angel and an agent of God. The government thought he was in possession of illegal firearms and explosives, as well as a criminal who physically and sexually abused several children he fathered with his followers.

On February 28th, 1993, about 70 highly militarized agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) approached Mount Carmel, the compound of a controversial Branch Davidian religious group near Waco.

When cult leader David Koresh came to the front door on the 28th of February, shots were fired — to this day, no one is sure who fired first. Koresh was hit in his side, and his father-in-law was mortally wounded. Overhead, helicopters began to spray the compound with return fire against aggressive compound members, killing four more.

Later that day, agents killed another Davidian who approached the compound.

Four ATF agents were killed and another 16 were wounded that day.

Following the February 28th shoot-out, Koresh and his followers locked themselves inside the compound.

On April 17, fed up with unreliable negotiations, newly sworn Attorney General Janet Reno approved the use of (CS) gas to end the six-week standoff.

At dawn on Monday morning, April 19, 1993, the FBI phoned the compound to warn those inside about what was to occur.

Then around 12 p.m., while the FBI was reloading tear gas and other munitions for a second wave of assaults, the compound suddenly caught on fire and the flames spread fast. Agents next to the buildings heard gunfire and assumed that Koresh’s followers had decided to end it all with a mass suicide. An HRT agent later claimed that he had seen someone light a fire in front of the building, and several ear-splitting explosions from within erupted into a black, billowy cloud of smoke.

1827 – The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad became the first railroad incorporated for commercial transportation of people and freight.a

1854 – The Republican Party was organized in Ripon, WI. About 50 slavery opponents began the new political group.

1861 – The U.S. territory of Colorado was organized.

1883 – The first vaudeville theater opened.

In the early 1880’s, Tony Pastor, a former ringmaster with the circus turned theater manager, capitalized on middle class sensibilities and spending power when he began to feature “polite” variety programs in several of his New York theaters. Hoping to draw a potential audience from female and family-based shopping traffic uptown, Pastor barred the sale of liquor in his theatres, eliminated questionable material from his shows, and offered gifts of coal and hams to attendees.

Pastor’s experiment proved successful and other managers soon followed suit.

There was usually a dozen or more acts in every vaudeville performance. Starting and ending with the weakest, the shows went on for hours. The performances ranged from the truly talented to the simply quirky. There were musicians, such as the piano player Eubie Blake, and the child star, Baby Rose Marie. There were great acts of physical talent; everything from contortionists, to tumblers to dancers such as the Nicholas Brothers. Great comic acts such as Witt and Berg and Burns and Allen brought in the biggest crowds.

The development of vaudeville marked the beginning of popular entertainment as big business, dependent on the changing tastes of an urban middle class audience.

1885 – AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph) was incorporated. The company was capitalized on only $100,000 and provided long distance service for American Bell.

1940 – The first televised basketball game was shown. The game featured Fordham University and the University of Pittsburgh from Madison Square Gardens in New York.

1951 – A Senate committee issued a report that stated that there were at least two major crime syndicates in the U.S.

1953 – In a Cambridge University laboratory, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

1974 – The U.S. and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after a break of seven years.

1979 – Mr. Ed, the talking horse from the TV show “Mr. Ed”, died.

1983 – “M*A*S*H” became the most watched television program in history when the final episode aired.

1986 – Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme was assassinated in Stockholm.

1994 – NATO made its first military strike when U.S. F-16 fighters shot down four Bosnian Serb warplanes in violation of a no-fly zone over central Bosnia.

2013 – Benedict XVI resigned as pope. He was the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 and the first to resign voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294.


Source: u-s-history.com; On-This-Day.com; xroads.virginia.edu