TV series on Branch Davidian shootout to film in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A six-part television series covering a deadly standoff between the federal government and the Branch Davidians spiritual sect more than two decades ago will be filmed in New Mexico.

Work on “Waco” will begin in mid-April and last through June, officials with the New Mexico Film Office said Monday. Locations will include everything from the rural reaches of Santa Fe County — standing in for the prairies of Central Texas — to urban office buildings and studios.

The series will star Michael Shannon, Taylor Kitsch and John Leguizamo and will premiere on the Paramount Network in 2018. It will be directed by John Erick Dowdle and produced by The Weinstein Co.

The series will explore the details leading up to and chronicling the 51-day standoff in which four federal agents were killed along with some 70 people inside the sect’s compound in Central Texas.

Millions watched live television coverage of the fiery end of the government’s standoff with Branch Davidian members, including sect leader David Koresh, whom authorities had been trying to arrest on weapons charges. The sect had been tipped off about the raid and a shootout ensued.

Officials with the project say the miniseries will mark the first time the story is told on television through the perspectives of several people intimately involved on both sides of the conflict.

“The Weinstein Co. is known for high quality projects with intriguing story lines and ‘Waco’ is no exception,” said State Film Office Director Nick Maniatis.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up at the compound in late February 1993, trying to serve a search warrant for illegal stockpiles of weapons and explosives. They were greeted with gunfire as investigators later determined that the group had been tipped off.

In the weeks that followed, federal authorities said they were worried about the children in the compound being abused. Koresh was known to have multiple wives, including preteen girls.

The siege ended April 19. After an FBI negotiator asked over a loud speaker for Koresh to lead his people out, military vehicles began ramming the buildings and spraying tear gas. A few hours later flames were seen spreading through the compound. Only nine people escaped.

The dramatic siege has already been the subject of documentaries and books. First announced last year, network officials said the miniseries would change the way the event would be viewed.

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