Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas/Mass Suicide or Mass Murder?

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The medical examiner has determined that Koresh, Schneider and a number of other individuals who died in the compound on April 19, did not die from the fire, but died from gunshot wounds. It is not known whether these individuals committed suicide or were shot by others.

Former Davidian Dana Okimoto reported to authorities in an interview on May 27, 1993, after the fire, that Koresh's biggest fear was that someone would take his wives away and that he felt that rather than letting someone take his wife, the wife should kill herself and if she could not do so one of the "mighty men"[1] should do it, since this was one of their duties. Therefore, if people were shot within the compound it may have been in accordance with the above plan. It is also possible that some people were shot to prevent their escape from the compound. We may never know what really happened.[2]


  1. Koresh's "mighty men" were his inner circle responsible for enforcing discipline within the compound. The core of this group had been in the shoot-out with George Roden in 1987 and had been acquitted by a local jury. The term "mighty men" comes from the Bible.
  2. The Arson Report observes that: A great many of the occupants could have escaped to the outside of the compound even as the building burned. An exact number cannot be determined. However, considering the observable means of exit available, we must assume that many of the occupants were either denied escape from within or refused to leave until escape was not an option.