American Scandal

New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers.

Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

Encore: Waco | Ranch Apocalypse | 3

Encore: Waco | Ranch Apocalypse | 3

Tue, 14 Jun 2022 07:01

The Branch Davidians are accused of child abuse and stashing illegal firearms. With a federal investigation now underway, paranoia grows at Mount Carmel. And a government raid appears imminent.

Please support us by supporting our sponsors!

Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App

Looking for the DuPont Chemical Cover-up season? You can listen to episode 1 starting 7/12 on Wondery+ and 7/19 everywhere.

See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

Listen to Episode

Copyright © © 2018 Wondery, Inc.

Read Episode Transcript

To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. Download the Wondry app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. This is a special encore presentation of our series on the standoff in Waco, Texas, which originally aired in 2020. It's an investigation of a shocking story that sparked a national debate about religious freedom and the power of the federal government. We hope you enjoy. A listener note, this episode contains references to adult content and language and contains material that some might find offensive. It's February 1992 on the outskirts of Waco, Texas and a UPS truck rumbles down a dirt path, reaches a gate and comes to a stop. Larry Gilbrith, the UPS delivery man, shifts the truck into park. He glances out the window, noticing the winter sky fading into twilight as he gazes at his final destination for the day. It's Mt. Carmel Center. Gilbrith lets the engine idle and soon a guard come to out to greet him. Gilbrith has been making deliveries to Mt. Carmel for months now, but the place still puts him on edge. The people here treat him well enough, but they guard their compound like it's some kind of fortress. The guard at the gate carries a shotgun. All around the property, what looked like manned observation posts. In one afternoon, Gilbrith even saw a man running drills in camouflage fatigues. He had to wonder what kind of Christian community is this. Now with his truck idling, Gilbrith sees the guard unlocking the gate. The guard then waves him through. Gilbrith drives up the main cluster of buildings. He climbs out and walks around to the back of his truck. He grabs a couple packages, spots a large box on the top shelf, addressed to David Carresch. As Gilbrith stretches up and grabs it, the box tilts, nearly falling off the ledge, and then several round black objects spill out. They fall and clank against the metal floor. Gilbrith looks down at his feet and goes rigid with fear. He's surrounded by a half dozen hand grenades. His mind screams at him to run, but his body remains frozen. His heart pounds and he closes his eyes. But nothing happens. He squint at the grenades, his breath heavy, and he reaches down and gingerly picks one up. It's a hollow casing and surprisingly light in his hand. Gilbrith exhales in relief. He quickly gathers the casing, stuffs them back into the box, and carries everything to mount Carmel's front door. But there's no way he's going to knock for his signature. Gilbrith drops them there, then jumps into his truck and pulls it into gear. He avoids eye contact with the guard as he drives out. His knuckles white on the steering wheel. Soon he's on his way back home. Gilbrith pulls up to his house and walks inside. There he finds his wife, Debra, in the kitchen. With one look at his face, she knows something's wrong. Larry, what's happened? You remember what I've been saying about those people? The ones up at Mount Carmel? What happened? I was taking a box off the shelf, and it opens up and a bunch of grenades fall out. Grenades? My Lord, Larry! You could have been killed. That's what I thought. It turns out they were just empty shells or something, but God, it scared me to death. Okay, that does it. I'm calling the sheriff. Now, now hold on, Deb. I don't know if we want to get involved in this business. What if they find out we called the cops? Larry, these people are right on our doorstep. I'm calling the sheriff, and I'm doing it right now. Okay. All right, you're right. Call the sheriff. Then tell him I'll answer whatever questions he has. Debra makes a phone call, and Gilbert starts to think again about the men at Mount Carmel, the way they crawl commando style across the prairie, like they were getting ready for battle. His body suddenly goes tense, and his forehead feels damp. He wonders, what are those lunatics planning out there? He shakes his head and looks at Debra. She's right. Something awful could happen in Waco. And whatever it is, they need to try and stop it. American scandal is sponsored by the new ABC drama Alaska Daily. When an indigenous woman goes missing in Alaska, it sparks new questions about other missing and murdered indigenous women. And that's where the thrilling new ABC drama Alaska Daily begins, and where it's headed, will have you on the edge of your seat. Two time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank stars as Eileen, a veteran reporter who joins a team of local journalists working to bring the truth to light. From Academy Award winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy, Alaska Daily premieres Thursday, October 6th on ABC, and streams next day on Hulu. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. For the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. Tom Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scandal. By the early 90s, David Krashek gained almost complete control over the branched Davidian community at Mount Carmel. A few members had fled the community and spoken out against Krashek, but most of the branched Davidians were drawn into Krashe's apocalyptic worldview and ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for their Messiah. That would mean going head to head with the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fire Arms. ATF agents opened an investigation into Mount Carmel, and the more they dug, the more they learned about David Krashe's massive buildup of weapons. The agency began to view Krashe as an imminent threat, and that set the stage for a large scale confrontation between the two sides. This is Episode 3, Ranch Apocalypse. It's a hot fall day in 1991, an outside Waco, Texas, David Tibido is applying beige paint on a new building at Mount Carmel Center. As he glides his paintbrush along the wall, he feels something on his leg. It looks down, sees a fire ant crawling up his bare calf. He jumps, swat it away, and sighs. On days like this, he wonders how he found himself living in central Texas. Tibido is in his early 20s. He's heavy set with long brown hair and gray blue eyes. He's the drummer in David Krashe's rock band, and he and Krashe first met in Los Angeles at a guitar center. Tibido initially had some reservations about Krashe, especially when Krashe handed him a business card with a strange name. He listed his company as Messiah Productions. Still it wasn't long before Tibido grew fascinated by Krashe's teachings. Here was the deep sense of purpose that had always been missing from his life. So he packed up his drum set and meager belongings and moved to Mount Carmel. At first Tibido was shocked by the extremes of life at Mount Carmel. Their practices were unusual to say the least. There were the underage girls and spouses of other men who Krashe had taken as his wives. It was the fact that Tibido and other men were expected to practice celibacy and the restrictive diet that sometimes felt like starvation. And then there was the flock of followers that offered utter and complete devotion to a man they believe is their Messiah. But despite having some reservations, Tibido had begun to feel like he's finally in the right place. He's surrounded by people with a sense of purpose who know how to live a disciplined life, a life that he's trying to adopt. Even if that means, painting a building in the hot sun, attacked my ants. As Tibido reflects on his time at Mount Carmel, he hears someone approaching. Tibido looks up and sees Krashe walking toward him with a smile on his face. Hey, Tibido, let me venture here for a minute. Tibido sets down his paintbrush and greets Krashe with a quick, excited wave. He loves how Krashe seems like just one of the guys. Ron loves music, even if he's a preacher, but by the look on Krashe's face, he can tell there's something important to talk about. Absolutely, David, what's up? I've been thinking about something. He pauses and looks away as he waves his words. How would you like to marry Michelle? Tibido is stunned. He knows that Krashe means Michelle Jones, the 16 year old sister of Krashe's wife Rachel. But Tibido also knows the two are more than just in laws. The girl is also the mother of three of Krashe's children. No, no, David, what are you saying? You know, Mark Bro has been trying to stir up the police against me. He says, I'm running a hair, I'm beating the children. Like I've ever paddled any of them too hard. So what does that have to do with me and Michelle? Well, if people come snooping around, I need some cover. I don't need them wondering if Michelle's kids are mine. Tibido knows that Krashe's fathered more than a dozen children at Mount Carmel, sometimes with underage girls like Michelle. You'll get her parents to say, okay, you marry her, and then everything looks just fine if the police come by. And so you know, other guys here, they've helped me out like this before. I don't know, David, why me? I like Michelle, but I'm not ready to get married to anyone. Relax, it's not, it's not a real marriage. Just paperwork. You still be sleeping solo in the men's dorm. Tibido wins this. It's been incredibly difficult. Krashe enforces a rule of celibacy among all the men at Mount Carmel. At this point, Tibido feels like he's already given up plenty for his leader. I'm sorry, David. This is crazy. I'm just not cut out for marriage. Krashe looks Tibido dead in the eyes. Tibido, you're never going to fit in here if you don't get with the program. The waters are rising. All of us are making sacrifices. Tibido pauses the Texas sun beating down on him. Maybe he should take the plunge. Maybe it's time to buckle down and commit to something for once. He's been looking for structure and discipline. He looks back at Krashe. Okay, David. I'll do it. Good. You have made the right choice. I'll go tell Michelle. As Krashe walks away, Tibido feels the weight of this new reality sinking in. To reality, his instincts tell him to run from. But whenever he considers leaving Mount Carmel, he thinks about how lost he'd feel without David Krashe and his teachings. He's already spent enough time chasing dreams and ending up with nothing. Krashe may sometimes be unhinged, controlling, but at least he's building something that will last. It's February 27, 1992. Joyce Sparrowk's knock sharply on the front door at Mount Carmel. She's flanked by two sheriff's deputies whose eyes are hidden by mirrored sunglasses. Sparrowk's a social worker with a Texas Department of Child Protective Services. He's in her mid 30s with blonde hair and a disarming smile. Yesterday, Sparrowk had an unsettling phone call with a man named Mark Bro. He was calling all the way from Australia. Bro said he was a former member of what he called the cult at Mount Carmel. And he recounted horrific stories about the way the children were treated at the compound. Sparrowk was shocked so she came out to see for herself as soon as she could. The door opens and standing there as a woman in her early 20s with long blonde hair. She hides Sparrowk's in the deputies with distrust. Sparrowk introduces herself. She explains they've received a complaint and needs to speak with some of the children and also wants to talk with a man named David Krashe. The woman says her name is Rachel Krashe and her husband David is in California right now. She suggests Sparrowk should return some other time. Sparrowk shakes her head. Unfortunately that isn't an option. Rachel hesitates in the doorway and then she turns and leads Sparrowk's in the deputies inside. They head down a hallway and into a large room with wooden tables. Rachel explains that this is the community's cafeteria. They can talk with the kids here. Rachel Krashe then leaves the room and soon returns with a handful of young kids. Their eyes go wide when they spot the deputies. Sparrowk asks Rachel for a few minutes alone with the children. Rachel frowns but leaves the room once again. One by one Sparrowk talks gently with each child trying to learn if there's any truth to Bros accusations. She finds the kids skittish, strangely quiet. But all of them deny they've been abused and they say that none of the other children are mistreated either. The last child she interviews is a boy with blonde hair that runs past his shoulders. He says his name is Cyrus. Sparrowk smiles and asks how old he is. Six he says but he'll be seven soon. Sparrowk recalls what Bros said about Cyrus in particular that this boy is David Krashe's son and he's treated worst of all. She asks Cyrus if he's ever been hurt or denied food but Cyrus just shakes his head without saying a word. Sparrowk doesn't see any visible signs of physical abuse. She searches his face, wishing she could read the boy's mind. He stays quiet and she realizes there's nothing more she can learn for now. It's time to leave. One of the deputies brings Rachel back into the room. Sparrowk thanks her for her time. She says she'll come back another day to talk with David Krashe and maybe with some of the other families. When she walks back to her car, Sparrowk stops. She feels unsettled. Maybe she shouldn't leave just yet. Maybe there's more to uncover. She still feels suspicious but her hands are tied without concrete evidence. She'll have to return as soon as she can and meet this David Krashe face to face. His July 30, 1992 on a quiet residential street in Waco, Texas. ATF Special Agent Davey Aguilera and his partner approach a small home with sloping driveway. It belongs to a man named Henry Mack Mahone. Mack Mahone is a licensed arm dealer known to have sold weapons to David Krashe and the branched obedience. Aguilera has short dark hair and powerful shoulders that's strained against his suit jacket. He's a Marine Corps veteran and he's been with the ATF for about five years. He's a weapons expert and that helps explain why he's here today learning more about David Krashe. For months now, Aguilera has been investigating Krashe. Doll started when he got a call from the McClendon County Sheriff's office. The sheriff said that a local UPS driver had given a troubling report. He delivered grenade casings to a religious community east of Waco. He also described paramilitary exercises and armed guards on the property. The sheriff also said that the community's leader, David Krashe, had been charged with attempted murder a while back. The sheriff didn't know what Krashe was up to this time, but he did mention the locals referred to the Davidian compound as Ranch Apocalypse. Aguilera's stomach had tightened when he'd heard the phrase. He wondered if Krashe and his followers were some sort of doomsday called stockpiling weapons and waiting to strike. Since that call, it's only gotten worse. Aguilera found shipping records that show Krashe ordered large quantities of black gunpowder and powdered aluminum. Those are not illegal in their own right, but it's clear Krashe now has everything he needs to make functional highly illegal grenades. And grenades only seem to be part of the equation. Judging from the parts Krashe's ordered, there's evidence he may be converting legal AR 15s into fully automatic rifles. If there are hundreds of illegal weapons and explosives like these at Mount Carmel, and there's proof of violent intent, Krashe could be locked away for years. But at this point, Aguilera is still building his case. He needs more information. Better yet, proof. Aguilera checks his watch. They're right on time for the scheduled interview. He knocks on the door, and it's answered by a man in his early 30s with a thin mustache. Mack Mahon welcomes the agents into his living room. As the ander, Aguilera sees stacks of paperwork laid out on the coffee table. Mack Mahon explains he's already gathered the records they asked for. Aguilera's partner begins pouring over the transaction records. And Aguilera starts questioning Mack Mahon. At first, the arms dealer is friendly. He says that he met Krashe in the fall of 1990. Krashe didn't seem to know much about guns back then, but he's a good student, and now he's probably more of an expert than Mack Mahon himself. Aguilera frowns. He asks what Krashe intends to do with all the guns Mack Mahon sold him. More than 200 semi automatic rifles. Its tendon Mack Mahon seems to bristle. Krashe is just buying guns as an investment, he says defensively. The ATF should know what this is all about. If Bill Clinton is elected president, he's going to ban semi automatic weapons. So Krashe is just making a smart financial move. He'll be able to resell the guns at a huge profit. Aguilera is about to press the arms dealer further when his partner interrupts. He notice something strange. A number of parts for AR15s are missing from Mack Mahon's inventory. Where did those end up? He asked. Mack Mahon's small is hard. He says that for the time being, Krashe is storing the parts for him. Krashe gives him a skeptical look. Mack Mahon excuse himself. Says he'll grab some additional paperwork from the back room. Aguilera pages through some of the records while he waits. When he looks up, Mack Mahon is standing over him, cordless phone in his hand. He says he has David Krashe on the line and Krashe would be happy to have the agents out to mount Carmel. Aguilera's eyes go wide. Krashe is the last person he wants to talk to right now. Its way too early. Krashe could simply hide or disassemble the weapons before a scheduled visit. We could even plan an ambush. No Aguilera first needs to build a watertight case, one that allows the ATF to take swift and decisive action, and it needs to be on their terms. Until then, he's not ready to meet David Krashe. As the two agents walk back to the car, Aguilera knows he has to move fast. Krashe knows they're on his trail. To stop him, Aguilera needs to show that the Davidian leader is doing something illegal. Planning weapons or planning something violent. What is this last part? What Krashe might do with his arsenal? The worries Aguilera most of all. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion? Or you woke up in the morgue? Or you were seriously injured? Miles from help. What would you do? This is actually happening. Asks our listeners this very question. How we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening is available ad free only with Wondry Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. This mid December 1992, and just before dawn in Melbourne, Australia, the ringing of a telephone breaks the silence in a dark bedroom, and Joltz Mark Bro from his sleep. He turns over and sees it as wife Elizabeth Barronye has picked it up. She turns a bro and covers the mouthpiece with one hand. She says it's a call from America. Someone named Davie Aguilera with the ATF. As soon as he hears this bro is wide awake, he and Barronye have been trying for years to get the government to take action against David Kuresh. The call from the ATF can mean only one thing. Kuresh is finally under investigation. And by an agency powerful enough to take him down. Bro eagerly takes the receiver. This is Mark Bro. Hello sir, this is Agent Aguilera. I'm calling to ask you some questions about David Kuresh. Yeah, I've been waiting for a long time for someone to take my warning seriously. Bro sees Barronye shoot him a hopeful glance. Well, Mr. Bro, I'm glad we're speaking now. If you don't mind, I'd like to get right to it. How long has it been since you've lived at Mount Carmel? More than three years, but trust me, I have a good memory. That's noted. And what was your relationship to David Kuresh during that time? Well Vernon, I mean, David Kuresh. He was my spiritual leader and I was sort of his right hand man. We talked a lot about God and his plans for the group. He told me a lot that he'd never tell anyone else. I see. And did Kuresh ever talk about or reveal what kind of weapons he was stockpiling? Well, you've got to understand, I'm not much of a gun person, but I can tell you there are only a few guns at the beginning. But then he started ramping up for what he thought was the end of days. I know he was buying more and more. Mr. Bro, we have reason to believe that David Kuresh is in possession of more than 200 semi automatic weapons. He's even bought what might be a grenade launcher. But we need evidence of illegal weapons to get a warrant. Bro sits up in his bed and look a shock spread across his face. You're telling me a grenade launcher is legal? Well, yes, perfectly legal. The same with semi automatics, but Kuresh might be modifying his guns to make them fully automatic. And that would be illegal without the proper registration. Possession of explosive devices is also a crime. And of course, any illegal actions that they might be planning would be of grave concern to the ATF. Well, I definitely heard David say they were going to make automatic weapons. And he did talk about learning to build explosives. That's helpful, Mr. Bro. We can definitely use that for a warrant. We also have a neighboring rancher and army vet who says he's heard automatic gunfire coming from outcarmel. Bro clenches his jaw and considers what all this means. If Kuresh has all those weapons, then his armageddon must be just around the corner. There's a moment of silence on the other end of the line. When Aguilar speaks, his tone is even more serious. Mr. Bro, tell me more about this armageddon. Bro lays it all out. He explains that Kuresh believes he's the new Messiah and he's preparing for the end of times and a battle with the US government. He has complete control over his followers. And those followers are willing to die for him. Bro's voice grows stern as he warns the federal agent. I have to be very careful not trying to arrest Kuresh at Mount Carmel. You gotta lure him out somehow. We'll take that into consideration. Bro, thank you for your time, Mr. Bro. I will be in touch. Bro hangs up in Xhails heavily. He takes his wise hand and says that finally all their hard work is paying off. He should feel jubilant, but as Bro lies back down, he feels anxiety coursing through his body. He pictures the arsenal that Aguilar described and imagines it in Kuresh's hands. He certainly hopes the ATF will pay attention to his warning. It's January 1993 about a month later. Special agent Davey Aguilar is standing outside the tidy office of Joyce Sparks. Sparks is the social worker has been looking into allegations of child abuse at Mount Carmel. And while that's well outside the ATF scope, Aguilar is hoping Sparks may have picked up some useful intelligence during her visits. Aguilar wants to understand every aspect of life at Mount Carmel. That he hopes will help predict what exactly Kuresh intends to do with his arsenal. Sparks gestures for Aguilar to take a seat. She says that she interviewed the children about a year ago. And even though the place was unsettling, she found no evidence the children had been abused. She wanted to keep the case open, but her bosses decided otherwise. Even today, she still worries about those kids. And really, she worries about everyone at Mount Carmel. Aguilar raises an eyebrow. What makes her so worried? She bites her lip before implying. There's something very wrong with David Kuresh. She's glad Aguilar is here because Kuresh told her something quite disturbing. He said that the world was coming to an end. That when he reveals himself, whatever that means, well, let's just say something very big and terrifying is going to happen. And Kuresh told her that in that moment, all nonbelievers would suffer. Aguilar alines forward in his chair. Did Kuresh say when this event would happen? The spark replies no, but it seemed a ways off. Kuresh was talking like it was some distant fantasy. Aguilar nods thoughtfully, but he isn't so sure. It's time to speak with his superiors. The ATF needs agents keeping a closer eye on Mount Carmel. I need to understand just how imminent a threat this really is. It's January 10th, 1993. A dust devil whips across the field from Mount Carmel. And David Kuresh looks through a pair of binoculars at his neighbor's property. It's an old, run down ranch house, but something strange is going on. Out front, there's a pair of new pickup trucks. Properties been empty. And only about a month ago, the neighbor said he had no intention of renting the place. But now, for some reason, this derelict ranch house has a couple of shiny trucks out front. Earlier, Kuresh sent a few of his followers to meet the newcomers. They tried to give a friendly welcome, came bearing a cold six pack and fresh pizza. But according to his followers, a burly guy opened the door and didn't invite them in. He just accepted the pizza and beer with a quick thank you, and then firmly shut the door. Maybe nobody taught the guy manners, Kuresh thinks. But more likely, his new neighbors had something to hide. Afterward, Kuresh did some digging. He checked the registration on the pickup trucks. All the vehicles were registered to the same address, way over in Houston. All the way across the state. Kuresh lowers the binoculars. Beside him are two of his closest followers, Steve Schneider and David Tibido. Kuresh hands the binoculars to Schneider so he can have a look. Schneider doesn't mean his words. He says that the newcomers are definitely government agents. It's just not clear who they're working for. Schneider suggests they might be with immigration. But Kuresh shakes his head. No, sure, some members of the community are not American, and they have expired visas. But he can't picture immigration agents going to this length, staking out the compound, renting a whole property, and for what, busing a few people on expired tourist visas? No, Kuresh says. These guys must have bigger fish to fry. It's January 17, 1993. ATF Special Agent Robert Rodriguez walks through the ranch house. He and the other undercover agents are living in. It's loaded with surveillance equipment. All trained on the property across the way, Mount Carmel. In the living room, Rodriguez grabs a custom AR15 rifle from the gun rack near the monitors. Today, he's going to visit Mount Carmel. The branched avidians invited him to visit and together, they're going to practice on the group's shooting range. Rodriguez hops in his truck and makes a short drive to the compound. At the gate, he gives the guard his undercover name, Robert Gonzales, the guard wasting through. Rodriguez was nervous when he got this assignment. The higher up said Agent Aguilera needed first hand evidence to build a case for a warrant. Rodriguez wasn't sure he'd be convincing going undercover. He'd have to spend some time with a bunch of cult members, pretending to be interested in their crazy talk. But it's gone okay so far. It feels like he's gaining their trust. Why else would Kuresh invite him over to the gun range? Still, Rodriguez can't say he's thrilled to spend an afternoon firing assault rifles with a man who thinks he's the son of God. Rodriguez stepped out of his truck and he hears a steady volley of gunshots coming from just over the rise. He slangs the AR15 over his shoulder and makes his way towards the noise. Rodriguez heads to an open field where he spots Kuresh holding a semi automatic rifle. All at once he feels his sense is going on high alert. The religious leader turns and waves him over with a smile. But there's something eerie about it. Kuresh wears that same expression when he invites Rodriguez to Bible studies. Rodriguez hopes Kuresh will skip the Bible talk today. All he wants to hear about is something about illegal guns, something he can actually use for a gularist case. Kuresh fires his last rounds at a newly hung target. Then he invites Rodriguez to take a few shots. Rodriguez squins and takes aim. He tries to forget all his training and looks like an amateur. Ever since he met Kuresh, he's been playing dumb, asking questions about guns. He hopes Kuresh will screw up and reveal something he shouldn't. Rodriguez feels Kuresh watching him closely as he purposely sends a few rounds high off the target. Kuresh pats him on the back and tells him he might want to consider using the scope on the top of the gun. Rodriguez tries to laugh but he says he just bought the thing. He offers the rival to Kuresh and asks if Kuresh wants to try it out so he what he thinks. Rodriguez is hopeful this will lead to something. There's nothing like swapping guns at a shooting range to get people bragging about their own firepower. Kind of illegal guns are itching to use if they ever get the chance. Kuresh grabs the weapon. Rodriguez watches as he sights in and nails the bull's eye repeatedly. This guy is a serious marksman. Then Kuresh pivots and aims at stones far off the prairie. Three quick pops. He doesn't miss a single one. Kuresh is strange looking his eye when he hands the gun back to Rodriguez. This is a sniper rifle, Robert. Very dangerous weapon. You should be careful. Right then Rodriguez has the terrifying feeling that Kuresh sees right through him. He sure he's imagining it but still he's got to get out of here before he cracks. He thanks Kuresh says he needs to get home. He's got to keep studying for class at the nearby technical school. He promises to come for Bible talk sometime this week. Kuresh nods his head and his eyes turn cold and steely. Sure thing Robert he says is voice disturbingly cheerful. We look forward to having you back soon. It's late January 1993. Special agent Davey Aguilera steps out of the biting wind and enters a cavernous airplane hangar. The hangar is northeast of Waco and inside, government agents are clustered in various corners. They're murmuring among themselves and pouring over aerial photos of the branch Davidian compound. For the next few weeks this will be ATF's command post for the action against Mt. Carmel. Aguilera has spent the past seven months putting together an affidavit, one that summarizes his investigation. He's nearly finished and soon the ATF will present it to the federal judge so they can get warrants to search Mt. Carmel and arrest David Kuresh. Aguilera has documented the real threat posed by the branch Davidians. They have everything they need to manufacture fully automatic weapons and to build explosive devices. By interviewing people like Mark Broe, they've established Kuresh's extremist views and they can prove that he's getting ready for a showdown with authorities. Aguilera spots another special agent who's here to help lead the action at Mt. Carmel. The agent fills him in on some crucial backstory. Higher up, said the ATF decided they shouldn't try to arrest David Kuresh while he's away from Mt. Carmel. There are just too many factors outside of their control. Kuresh rarely seems to leave the compound and his timing is unpredictable. Also, it's crucial that they execute both the arrest warrant and the search warrant at the same time. Because of word gets back to Mt. Carmel that Kuresh has been arrested, the ATF will lose the element of surprise for the search. Aguilera understands the logic but he still feels nervous. He can't stop thinking about Mark Broe's warning that there could be a catastrophe at Mt. Carmel. Luckily, Aguilera found old evidence that should greatly help the ATF. The Sheriff's Department had evidence of a meth lab on the property. A number of Davidians currently living at Mt. Carmel have drug charges on their records. So with drugs now a factor, the ATF has a trick of its sleeve. It can now use military resources for any action at Mt. Carmel. Aguilera asks the ATF special agent how the partnership with the military is coming along. The agent says he's not sure they'll get the Bradley tanks they've requested, but it's very likely they'll get helicopters from the National Guard. And the US Army special forces should be able to help train the ATF troops. Of course, the team will give Kuresh a chance to submit to arrest. But if he and the Davidians won't back down, the ATF needs to be prepared for a fight. Then the agent gives Aguilera a stern look. He asks if Aguilera is sure the warrant from the judge will come through. They put a lot of time and resources into this mission. Now that the military is involved, everything has to come off without a hitch. The agent lowers his voice and steps towards Aguilera. He asks, is it true they do not have hard evidence of illegal weapons? Aguilera swallows hard, but he stands his ground. Yes, that's technically true, he says. But all the necessary components for illegal weapons are on site at Mt. Carmel. More importantly, there's no way a judge could ignore all the warning signs. Aguilera says they should have a warrant soon, probably within a couple weeks. The agent gives a curtain on. He says he's about to brief the team on the current plan from the mission. Aguilera can sit in. Soon, the two head to a makeshift conference area. Aguilera takes a seat on a folding chair toward the back. The other agent addresses the room and explains that the element of surprise is the most crucial aspect of the plan. It seems likely the Davidian men are going to be working on the foundation for a new building. That means they'll be distracted and away from their weapons. But that doesn't mean we can just roll up in a SWAT van, he says. Instead, they have a Trojan horse. Two of them, in fact, a pair of Texas cattle trailers covered with tarps. They're large enough to hide about 70 agents. Once the truck stopped, agents were rolled out, weapons drawn, and announced their presence. Hopefully, the show force will be enough to make a crash surrender. If not, the agents need to be ready. The back row, Aguilera's heart begins racing. He can picture this plan on folding. It will be a terrifying day for everyone. It's early February 1993. The sound of a helicopter's rotors echoes off the building at Mount Carmel. David Tubaida looks nervously up at the sky. This isn't the first time a helicopter has flown over Mount Carmel. The community heard one last week, too. But David Kuresh believes a government attack is coming. It's not a matter of if he says it's a matter of when. So on Kuresh's orders, Tubaida and others began important work on the main building. They opened up the walls and poured concrete between the drywall. This is all part of an effort to make their home bulletproof. Still, in other ways, life at Mount Carmel has continued as normal. Just last week, they started building a tornado shelter. That's protection from mother nature, not Uncle Sam. As Tubaida stares at the sky, the helicopter banks far over a neighboring field. Then it races forward for another pass over Mount Carmel. Tubaida watches the children make a game of it. They're aiming imaginary rifles into the sky, pretending they have the power to bring the evil machine out of the clouds. Tubaida sees his friend Julie Martinez standing at the edge of the field. She's watching her children pretend to be soldiers. He smiles sadly. Tubaida has had a crush on Martinez since she arrived here over a year ago. He appreciates that she didn't come for the religion, but because she was at the end of her rope with a bad drug habit. Her mother lives at Mount Carmel, and so she could live here rent free and have all her children with her. Tubaida approaches his eyes on the children. Hey Julie, your kids seem to be handling all this better than I am. Oh, don't worry. My mom says David's been talking about this battle with the government for years, but I don't understand why it's all more likely to happen this time. I don't know. There's helicopters in the sky. These guys moving in down the road once got me a little freaked out. Martinez shrugged, smiles. I said you've got more important things to work out like how to celebrate next week. Tubaida can't help a grin. He's turning 24 next week, and he's touched that Martinez remembered. Just then David Kresh comes out in the yard, calls everyone in for a study session. Something about this sounds urgent though, and so Tubaida and the others quickly file into the chapel. At the front of the chapel, David Kresh stands with a broad, otherworldly smile in his face. He looks possessed, almost rapturous. He begins to preach. We are the peculiar people spoken of in the Bible. The people that the world's powers will never understand. I tell you it's good to have you peculiar people with me here today. There are a few appreciative laughs around the room, but suddenly Kresh's mood turns somber. Yes, we are the peculiar people, and the obliteration of our community is inevitable. The forces will come, but fear not them which killed the body. They are not able to kill the soul. Tubaida's heart sinks, because once again Kresh is saying that their salvation lies in sacrifice. He watches his leader pace the front of the room holding his Bible in the air. What we have yet to know is how this will happen. Will God allow us to ascend to heaven without suffering and earthly death? Or will we all die violently? We'll soon find out. It'll be a hard fate we're facing, but let me tell you something. It's magnificent. Tubaida looks around at the faces in the room. Men and women of all ages, races and backgrounds. They're the closest thing to a community he's ever known. He looks at Julie Martinez and his friend Steve and Wayne and his legal wife Michelle who sits with her three children. They faces a strong tug in his heart. If Kresh's right and all these people are going to die, he may have to accept his fate and stand side by side with his community. He hopes he never has to make that decision, but it seems like the nightmare day is approaching, and he'll soon have to choose a side. While I'm wondering, this is episode three of Waco from American Scandal. In our next episode, the ATF launches its faithful raid on Mount Carmel. Government forces face off against David Kresh in his followers, and the outcome is nothing either side could have predicted. If you like our show, please give us a five star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends. I also have two other podcasts you might like, American History Tellers and Business Movers. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now. Or you can listen to new episodes early and add free by subscribing to Wondering Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondering app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support this show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Follow me at Lindsay A. Graham, Lindsay with an A, Middle and Initially, and thank you. If you'd like to learn more about Waco, we recommend the book Waco, a Survivor Story by David Tibido, and the CBS 48 Hours episode Secrets of Waco. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. Americans Gandalist hosted, edited, and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham for Airship. Audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barons, music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Michael Canyon Meyer, edited by Christina Malzberg. Our senior producer is Game Rivet. Execute producers are Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marsha Louis for Wondering.