The horrific American tragedies that occurred around 4/20

on Apr20

19 April 2018 | 11:26 pm


Many people associate April 20, or 4/20, as a day of celebration for marijuana aficionados. However, the week of reefer madness has been horrific for Americans over the past quarter-century. While countless individuals use cannabis on Friday, let’s revisit five tragedies that may deflate potheads.


The Branch Davidians were a religious cult led by David Koresh at the Mount Carmel Center ranch in Axtell, Texas. Authorities began monitoring the sect when rumors arose that its members were heavily armed, engaging in polygamy, and sexually abusing their children. In particular, Koresh reportedly had roughly 20 wives and he partook in adult relations with minors at the compound.

“It’s sick and it’s perverted and yeah, it’s one of the things about David Koresh that probably bothers me the most,” former Davidian David Bunds told ABC News. “My position now is that David Koresh was a pedophile… [and] I wish I would have done something. I don’t know what I would have done but I wish I had done something.”

On February 28, 1993, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrived at the group’s headquarters to arrest the 33-year-old Koresh on an array of charges. While accounts of what occurred vary greatly, a firefight erupted and six of Koresh’s followers and four federal agents were shot to death. Koresh was wounded in the battle and his believers were told to prepare for an apocalyptic holy war with law enforcement. A 51-day siege between federal agents and Koresh’s followers ensued. In the early morning hours of April 19, and under orders from former President Bill Clinton, military tanks rammed the compound and shot tear gas into it. The compound became engulfed in flames and 76 Branch Davidians, including 18 children and Koresh, perished in the attack.

“Everyone thinks that we’re monsters, that we attacked innocent people,” ATF agent Robert Elder told ABC News. “We didn’t drive up there and start shooting and killing people. We responded with deadly force because deadly force was used against us.”


Former U.S. Army soldier Timothy McVeigh was radicalized by the events at Waco and he sought revenge on the government. Two years after the Branch Davidians’ demise, on April 19, 1995, McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck packed with bomb-making chemicals in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. McVeigh vacated the truck and then detonated the crude explosives at 9:02 a.m. CST. The powerful blast killed 168 people and injured an additional 680 individuals.

McVeigh and his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, were nabbed for perpetrating the deadliest act of homegrown terrorism in U.S. history. Nichols was found guilty of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for killing federal law enforcement officials. Nichols was sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences at a super-maximum-security prison called ADX Florence in Colorado. McVeigh was sentenced to death and he was executed by lethal injection at the age of 33 on June 11, 2001.

“I was glad when he died,” said Janie Coverdale, who lost her two grandsons, Aaron, 5, and Elijah, 2, in the building’s day care center. “I will never forgive Timothy McVeigh.”


Senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 of their peers and one teacher on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The sinister duo purportedly chose this date because it’s Adolf Hitler’s birthday and they wanted to outdo Timothy McVeigh’s carnage from four years earlier. To murder more people than McVeigh, the 18-year-old Harris and 17-year-old Klebold devised a plot to explode 99 devices in and around the school’s cafeteria and then execute fleeing pupils. Authorities estimate that such acts of terror would have taken more than 600 lives. Klebold’s mother, Sue Klebold, wrote a memoir titled “A Mother’s Reckoning.” In the essay, Sue acknowledged her guilt and shame.

“I had raised a murderer without knowing it,” Sue wrote. “As a mother, this was the most difficult prayer I had spoken … the greatest mercy I could pray for was … his death.”

Fortunately, the crude bombs malfunctioned and Harris and Klebold committed suicide as SWAT teams swarmed the premise. Sue has been a strong advocate of suicide and violence prevention since her son’s rampage.


A Virginia Tech senior named Seung-Hui Cho slayed 32 people on the school’s Blacksburg campus on April 16, 2007. The 23-year-old Cho, who was born in Province, South Korea, and primarily raised in  in Fairfax County, Virginia, was a disturbed loner who suffered from long-term mental illness. Prior to orchestrating the bloodbath, Cho sent NBC a package that contained a 23-page manifesto, 28 video clips and 43 photos. Cho’s written statement derided his victims and professed his admiration for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the manifesto.

“Your Mercedes wasn’t enough, you brats,” Cho wrote.

“Your golden necklaces weren’t enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn’t enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn’t enough. All your debaucheries weren’t enough. Those weren’t enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything. I didn’t have to do it. I could have left. I could have fled. But now I am no longer running. If not for me, for my children and my brothers and sisters that you (expletive). I did it for them (and) martyrs like Eric and Dylan.”

Like Harris and Klebold, Cho committed suicide as authorities approached to engage.


Brothers, and Islamic extremists, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two homemade bombs near the Boston Marathon’s finish line to murder five people on April 15, 2013. The Tsarnaevs initially evaded capture and returned to their residence in Watertown, Massachusetts. However, authorities soon identified the killers and released surveillance video seeking the public’s assistance in their apprehension.

The Tsarnaevs subsequently killed a MIT policeman and then used a hijacked a vehicle. Tamerlan was killed later that evening during an intense shootout. Following an unprecedented manhunt, Dzhokhar was located in a boat and arrested and charged with using, and conspiring to use, a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death. Dzhokhar was sentenced to die in May 2015 and he’s currently imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary, Florence High in Colorado.

“I hope this verdict provides a small amount of closure to the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon,’’ Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said after Dzhokhar’s sentence was announced.

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