Filmmaker Tiller Russell Humanizes What Happened at Waco

A new Netflix documentary shows how the seeds of political polarization that roil our culture today were planted at Waco.


HD Download

David Koresh was a spiritual leader who saw himself as the final prophet in a world that was coming to an end. Though Koresh and his followers were largely peaceful, they were amassing weapons as a way to defend themselves when the apocalypse came. Numbering about 100, the Branch Davidians lived a quiet existence in a compound known as Mount Carmel, located just outside of Waco, Texas. 

In 1993, the federal government obtained a warrant to raid their headquarters on the grounds that they possessed illegal weapons. 

When they showed up on February 28 of that year, federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) thought they would be in and out. But the Branch Davidians resisted. Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians were killed during the initial raid, and after a 51-day standoff, the siege ended with the burning of Mount Carmel. Seventy-six Branch Davidians—including 25 children—perished after being trapped inside.

Now 30 years since the historic standoff, director of Waco: American Apocalypse, Tiller Russell, tells the story of Waco from a very human perspective. The docuseries features never-before-seen footage from the FBI hostage negotiation room as well as interviews of Branch Davidians, FBI hostage negotiators, FBI hostage rescue team members, and reporters who were on the ground during the siege.

Waco was the largest gunfight on American soil since the Civil War, and many people point to it as a pivotal moment in American history that created new levels of distrust in the federal government.

Produced by Natalie Dowzicky; edited by Regan Taylor. 

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Netflix

Music Credits: "Back Home," by Max H. via Artlist; "The Sunrise Waltz," by Patrick Ussher via Artlist; "Between Us," by Veaceslav Draganov via Artlist; "Getting Answers," by Max H. Via Artlist; "Deaths Fear," by Patrick Ussher via Artlist.