Homegrown Terror: The Road to Oklahoma City Terror Attack
For the thousands of residents of Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995 began normally. More than 800 people are headed to the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that day, among them a man driving a large yellow truck. The Murrah building housed sixteen federal agencies. On the second floor, America’s Kids day care center is slowly filling up with their wards.
Just before 9:00 a.m., the man parked the truck in front of the Murrah Building. He locked the doors of the truck then jogged away. The man’s name was Timothy McVeigh. At 9:02 a.m., a huge explosion tore through the building.
Timothy McVeigh was born in Pendleton, New York on April 23, 1968. He was the second child William and Mildred McVeigh, who divorced when Timothy was 10 years old. He performed well in high school and was described as introverted and quiet. He did not date or belong to any clique.
After high school, McVeigh attended the Niagara Community College. He started collecting guns and practiced shooting. In May 1988, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he performed well enough to be promoted Sergeant. It was in the army that he met Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier. McVeigh’s service in the Gulf War earned him both the Combat Infantry Band and a Bronze Star. Upon returning from the Gulf War, he joined the Green Berets’ training camp but dropped out after two days. He requested and received an honorable discharge in December 1991.
After his discharge, McVeigh experienced depression and began adopting increasingly angry views against the U.S. government. The turning point for McVeigh was the 1992 Ruby Ridge shootout where the wife and son of survivalist Randy Weaver were killed by federal officials, and the 1993 FBI siege on the compound of the Branch Davidian Cult in Waco, Texas where 75 of the cult’s followers, including young children, were killed
McVeigh began plotting the Murrah Building attack in September 1994. He enlisted the help of Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier. McVeigh and Nichols bought ammonium nitrate, stole other supplies in a quarry, and stored their bomb paraphernalia in a rented a storage facility.
On April 17, 1995, McVeigh rented a truck which he and Nichols filled with 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate. Investigation after the explosion showed that explosive charges were also planted on four supporting columns of the Murrah Building. McVeigh chose April 19, 1995 as the date of the bombing to coincide with the second anniversary of the FBI’s assault on the Branch Davidian Cult.
The explosion killed 168 people, 19 of whom are children, and injured over 800 people. The explosion destroyed half of the Murrah building, and damaged surrounding buildings.
McVeigh was arrested after the explosion due to a simple traffic violation of driving without license plates that escalated when all purchases and rentals related to the bombing were traced back to him. He was charged with murder and conspiracy. Terry Nichols was charged with conspiracy, found guilty, and given a life sentence. Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison and given a $200,000.00 fine. He testified against McVeigh and Nichols.
Timothy McVeigh was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection. He was executed on June 11, 2001, six years after the bombing.
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