At 9:02 AM today, there was an anniversary but it wasn’t something to celebrate. Twenty years ago today, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed by two men named Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. There were 168 people killed and 700 injured during this heartless act of violence against our country.
Timothy McVeigh had detonated a truck bomb parked in front of the Federal Building located in Oklahoma City. 7,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel and other explosives packed in a Ryder truck was the bomb. This attack has been dubbed the Oklahoma City Bombing. The shocking part was that an American citizens had attacked their own government. This is when our country became aware of the true danger behind extremists. Because of this heartless attack, the FBI shifted their priorities to domestic terrorism cases. This led to more positions opening and reassignment of staff and expanded the number of task forces (Joint Terrorism).
Timothy McVeigh was an anti-government militant and was executed in 2001 at a federal prison in Indiana. He was charged with 11 federal counts for the bombing and during his hearing, he pleaded not guilty. His execution had been broadcast to Oklahoma survivors so they could see him be put to death. He had run from the explosion in a yellow Mercury and was caught by Charlie Hanger an hour away in Noble County. Charlie had pulled him over for a routine stop because he was missing a tag and ended up bringing him in for unlawfully carrying a weapon. 2 days later, McVeigh was identified as the bombing suspect.
Terry Nichols’ jury was deadlocked on the death penalty so he is still alive and 60 years old today. He is serving multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole in Colorado. He had rented a storage shed with McVeigh in September of 1994 and then later bought a house in Herington, KS. He had been at home spreading fertilizer on his lawn when the bombing happened. He went ahead and turned himself in for questioning and consented to a search of his home. During the search, evidence came up that McVeigh had been there along with receipts for the fertilizer used in the bombing. He was held as a material witness to the bombing until May 10. That is when he was charged.
There was a third man that was investigated named James Nichols but was released without charges when the Judge said there was no evidence of him being a danger to others. Michael Fortier entered a plea agreement for reduced charges in return for his agreement to testify. He had been charged with failing to notify the authorities in advance of the crime. He testified that he helped survey the building and provided further evidence that McVeigh and Nichols had committed the crime.
Because of 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing became a fuzzy memory but now today, twenty years afterwards, it’s time for America to remember.