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OKC Alfred P. Murrah Building Bombing On April 19th, 1995 a horrific terrorist attack on U. S. soil took place in the heartland of Oklahoma. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was targeted and was completely blown to pieces by one gigantic homemade bomb. The unimaginable had happened at the starting of a typical day at work. This day would be forever commemorated for the rest of America's history, unlike any other day until 9/11, as a prominent attack on the government of the United States. At 9:03 a. m. a massive bomb resting inside a rented Ryder truck destroyed half of the nine-story federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Within moments, the surrounding area looked like a complete war zone. The smoke in the air so thick it was impossible to breathe or see. A third of the building had been reduced to rubble, with many floors flattened like pancakes. Dozens of cars exploded and were incinerated. Also, more than 300 nearby buildings were damaged or destroyed.
It also claimed the innocent lives of 169 men, women, and children, while causing critical injuries to hundreds more. The bomb was made up of a deadly and potent cocktail of two and a half tons of ammonium nitrate , 4800 pounds of a common farm fertilizer, and fuel oil then was packed inside the rented truck. The most terrifying thing about the making of this bomb was that its ingredients were cheap and very accessible to the public. Most gardening stores sell 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate for $10. The substantial destruction from the bomb was luck more than anything. Former FBI bomb expert Denny Kline commented that "he made the biggest bomb he had accessible to him, placed the device outside, and hoped for the best, and in fact, it was the worst scenario". It blew off the front end of the building, blowing up ceilings and collapsing floors, and burying victims under an immense amount of concrete and steel. Just 90 minutes after the explosion, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol pulled over Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate on his vehicle. By April 21st, the 27-year-old Gulf War veteran would be known as the main suspect for the Alfred P.
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Murrah Building bombing and would subsequently be charged for the devastating crime. At the same time, Terry Nichols, McVeigh's old army buddy was wanted for questioning. Nichols turned himself in, in Herington, Kansas, and was also charged with the bombing shortly after. There has been speculation that the bombing of the federal building was to demonstrate the anti-government feelings over the 1993 government raid of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco Texas. The Branch Davidians are a deeply religious group that originated in 1955 from a schism in the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists. They have many theological beliefs in common with Messianic Judaism. The Waco raid began because ATF (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agents were trying to arrest a man named David Koresh, the head of the Davidian Branch, and search the Davidian Compound. The feds believed that Koresh was illegally converting semi-automatic AR-15’s into the fully automatic machine guns that soldiers use. Both McVeigh and Nichols were once spotted at the compound in Waco and were openly supporting the other Branch Davidians.
In 1993, McVeigh drove to Waco, Texas during the Waco Siege to show his support. At the scene, he distributed pro-gun rights literature and bumper stickers, such as "When guns are outlawed, I will become an outlaw. The bombing occurred exactly two years to the day after the compound burned to the ground killing 80 men, women, and children after a 51-day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the FBI. The bombing definitely put the spotlight on other groups with anti-government sentiments. McVeigh's trial was set for Denver, Colorado on March 31, 1997. On June 3rd, 1997, the jury found McVeigh guilty of all 11 counts, including eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of eight federal law-enforcement agents, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, using a weapon of mass destruction, and destruction of a federal building. The jury deliberated for 23 and a half hours before deciding the verdict. In the end, Timothy McVeigh was left all alone as dozens of former best friends and family relatives testified against him. On June 14th, 1997, the jury sentenced McVeigh to death by lethal injection.
Many of the victims' families were ecstatic overjoyed with the decision, as many people could see it no other way than to put him to death for the horrible crime he had committed. However, there were some people who were very saddened by the whole trial. One observer claimed that "it's not going to bring back my wife and lessen my loss," said Mike Lenz, whose wife was pregnant when killed by the explosion". Another echoed his attitude toward the situation, "I really did not want the death penalty," said James Kreymborg, who lost his wife and daughter. "I've had enough death. The evidence against McVeigh was overwhelming. According to testimony, McVeigh constructed himself a fake driver's license with the name Bob Kling. Someone matching McVeigh's description rented a Ryder truck in Junction City, Kansas. That truck which was identified by the axle number found at the bomb site blew up in Oklahoma City. McVeigh's fingerprints were found all over a receipt that showed the purchasing 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate. He told his friend, Michael Fortier, that he planned to stash a getaway car in an alley near the federal building.
The keys to that truck were found in the alley. In addition, testimony proclaimed that McVeigh was stopped 1? hours after the bombing; the explosive residue was found on earplugs inside his vehicle; he had an envelope packed with newspaper clippings and papers with revolutionary writings; he wore a tee-shirt with the slogan: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". The trial for Terry Nichols had a different result compared to the one for McVeigh. Nichols' trial took place after McVeigh's trial. On December 24th, 1997, the jury found Nichols not guilty in 10 of the 11 original charges against him. He was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy and eight lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter. The jury deadlocked as how to sentence Nichols and left it up to the judge. On June 5th 1998 the judge, US District Court Judge Richard P. Matsch, gave the 43-year-old Nichols a life sentence for his role in the bombing. The bombing was quickly solved, but the investigation turned out to be one of the most exhaustive in FBI history.
No stone was left unturned to make sure every clue was found and all the culprits identified. By the time it was over, the Bureau had conducted more than 28,000 interviews, followed some 43,000 investigative leads, amassed three-and-a-half tons of evidence, and reviewed nearly a billion pieces of information. In the end, the government that McVeigh hated and hoped to topple swiftly captured him and convincingly convicted both him and his co-conspirators. The relatives of the victims were able to have some redemption with the horrible tragedy that happened. The worst terrorist act on US soil was committed by two Americans, the least likely thought by government officials to contain such a hatred for the American government. The April 19th, 1995 bombing was an unthinkable tragedy but also an important lesson for the United States: one should look to themselves before pointing fingers at others.
- Page Camp, J. (1995).
- CNN interactive: Oklahoma City Bombing: http://cgi.cnn. com/US/OKC/facts/Bombing/Terror5-4/index.html. Clark, T. (1995).
- Guilty on every count. The Denver Post: http://www.rickross.com/reference/mcveigh1.html. Gorov, L. (1998).
- No Nichols death penalty: Jurors deadlocked; the judge will sentence. The Denver Post: http://www.rickross. com/reference/mcveigh5.html. Haynes, V. D. (1998).
- Nichols gets life for bombing role. The Denver Post: http://www.rickross.com/reference/mcveigh6.html. Wilmsen, S. & Simpson, K. (1997).
- McVeigh receives the ultimate penalty. The Denver Post: http://www.rickross. com/reference/mcveigh3.html. "Oklahoma City Bombing. "
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