'Truth and Lies: Waco' Airs July 7 on ABC
The ABC Television Network presents a documentary on the 25th anniversary of the deadly Waco, Texas, raid on the Branch Davidian compound that led to a gunfight killing four ATF agents and six of David Koresh's followers. After a 51-day standoff with FBI agents, the compound burned to the ground, leaving 74 more people dead. The crisis that ignited national outrage and a media firestorm have been described as the worst debacle in federal law enforcement history. The government's misleading disclosure of key facts in the case following the event has given RISE to conspiracy theories from far-right movements that cite this event as a rallying cry for their distrust of the government. The "Truth and Lies" documentary includes new details and interviews with FBI and ATF agents about the tactics they used during the standoff. ABC also interviews survivors of the fire and children of Koresh's followers who talk about how those events changed their lives. "Truth and Lies: Waco" airs Saturday, July 7 (9:00 - 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Rebroadcast. ABC OAD: 01/04/18)
Growing up in a troubled household to a teenage mom, Koresh turned to the Bible. He eventually joined the Branch Davidian church, a splinter group of the Seventh Day Adventists, and would proclaim himself to be a prophet and leader of the group. Koresh preached an apocalyptic message: that the end of the world was imminent. He also preached that the United States government was going to fatally attack the Branch Davidians. He maintained absolute authority with draconian rules, and allegedly committed physical and sexual abuse against some members including children.
Koresh began to militarize his followers, calling them soldiers of God. The ATF started an investigation after they received reports that the compound was obtaining deliveries of illegal weapons. When the ATF moved in, followers felt Koresh's prophecy was being fulfilled. The ensuing gun battle resulted in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Davidians. The FBI took over the operation from the ATF in a 51-day siege that seized the attention of the nation, but culminated in disaster. On April 19, the FBI tear-gassed the compound. Soon after, the building burned to the ground causing the deaths of dozens of Davidians.
The documentary on WACO is the fifth installment of the No. 1 rated "Truth and Lies" series. Launched in January 2017, the first four specials were on the Menendez brothers, Charles Manson, Watergate and Laci Peterson.
The special is produced by ABC News. David Sloan is senior executive producer and Muriel Pearson is senior producer.