Thirty Years Ago the Branch Davidian Compound Burned to the Ground — What's There Now?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Mar. 22 2023, Published 9:11 p.m. ET

Branch Davidian Compound
Source: Getty Images

A half-buried bus on the Branch Davidian Compound March 2000

In early 1993, federal agents were made aware of a religious organization in Waco, Tx. that according to sources was stockpiling guns. The Branch Davidians did own a large cache of weapons, but they were legally selling them to make money. This was their business. On. Feb. 28, 1993 members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms raided the compound, injuring their leader David Koresh and killing four other members of the Branch Davidian as well as five agents.

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For the next 51 days, a standoff occurred between federal agents and the compound.

According to NPR, on April 19 "tanks punched holes in the flimsy building and began inserting tear gas." Soon after a fire erupted, engulfing the building in flames. By the time the smoke cleared, more than 80 people were dead. A forthcoming Showtime series tells the story of what happened next. Waco: The Aftermath threads a needle from this moment to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and beyond, but who owns the compound now?

Branch Davidian Compound
Source: Netflix

A tank sits outside the Branch Davidian Compound as it burns down

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Who owns the Branch Davidian Compound now?

While it's unclear who legally owns the land the Branch Davidian Compound once stood on, what we do know is that it's still holy land. Time reported that a church now occupies the area once ruled by David Koresh. Though the name has changed, the zealot-thinking still maintains a firm grip on the believers who now preach from this house of some God.

Mount Carmel Center is marked by a row of red and green crepe myrtles, planted by the survivors of the siege. They originally planted one tree per life lost but "current pastor, Charles Pace, chopped down the tree dedicated to David Koresh," per Time.

By all accounts, Charles and his wife Alexa have strong beliefs. When they spoke to the outlet, Alexa was wearing a t-shirt that read PRAY TO END ABORTION. Charles is certainly no stranger to the Branch Davidians, having left in the 1980s.

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"I saw through their delusions," says Pastor Charles, who incidentally voted for Donald Trump and believes he'll make a triumphant return as noted by the shirts they sell: MR TRUMP YOU ARE MY PRESIDENT 2020–2024. The Paces have divorced themselves from the cult status of David Koresh while still honoring former members of the Branch Davidian. Still, Charles knows what the people want to pictures of Koresh hang in the new church alongside the original founders.

David Koresh
Source: Netflix

David Koresh

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Considering how true-crime is and has been treated in the United States, it makes perfect sense that this is a popular tourist stop for many. They survive on donations and merchandise sales. Believe it or not, one can attend services on Sundays. It's definitely a surreal experience.

Charles Pace doesn't traffic in doomsday rhetoric but he does buy into conspiracy theories.

Like many false prophets, Koresh claimed to be chosen by God to lead people into a higher existence, via ABC News. Branch Davidian survivor Clive Doyle told the outlet in January 2018 that Koresh "believed he was King David."

While Charles Pace is not preaching these sorts of beliefs, he has his fair share of conspiracy theories.

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Regarding Koresh's death, Charles has an interesting theory. "That’s why the Clintons couldn’t let him live. He knew too much about the human trafficking, pedophilia, and gun-and cocaine-running the Clintons and Bushes were guilty of," he revealed to Time. He also claims former President George H. W. Bush was a "pedophile and homosexual" who constructed tunnels under the White House.

Later, Trump would allegedly find the bodies of 1500 children, or so Pace claims.

Waco: The Aftermath is streaming on Showtime now.

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