David Koresh (; born Vernon Wayne Howell; August 17, 1959 – April 19, 1993) was the American leader of the Branch Davidians sect, believing himself to be its final prophet.
Koresh came from a dysfunctional family background and was a member, and later a leader, of the Shepherds Rod, a reform movement led by Victor Houteff that splintered off from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Koresh joined a spiritual group that was based at the Mount Carmel Center outside Waco, Texas, where the group took the name Branch Davidians. Here he competed for dominance with another leader named George Roden, until Roden was jailed for murdering another rival.The serving of arrest and search warrants by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) as part of an investigation into illegal possession of firearms and explosives provoked the 1993 raid on the center. Four ATF agents and six Davidians were killed during the initial two-hour firefight, both sides claiming the other side fired first. The subsequent siege by the FBI of almost two months ended when the center caught fire in disputed circumstances. Koresh and 79 others were found dead after the conflagration.