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The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
The aftermath of the bombing on the north side of the Murrah Federal Building.
Credit: David Glass/AP
The Oklahoma City Memorial
Terry Nichols (left) and Timothy McVeigh (right)
Firefighter Chris Fields carries a dying infant from the bombed building.
Killer(s): Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols,
Victim(s): 168 Victims Total,
Written by: Jewls Krueger
On Wednesday, April 19, 1995 at 9:02 am, a Ryder truck containing ~4800 lbs of high grade explosives blew up at the base of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The explosion was felt over 50 miles away, killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others. The north side of the Federal Building was completely destroyed, and over 300 buildings within a 4 block radius were damaged.
Within 2 hours, Timothy McVeigh, a 26-year-old Gulf War Veteran and white supremacist was arrested for driving without a license plate and having a concealed weapon. McVeigh was linked to the bombing when the VIN of the truck was linked to a rental agency who was able to identify McVeigh as one of the men who rented the truck. Investigators were able to link Terry Nichols, a 39-year-old pedophile and white supremacist, to the crimes as well.
As the investigation progressed, it was uncovered that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols met during their military service and became closer after both becoming enraged by the Waco Siege in 1993. Their anti-government views grew and they began stockpiling explosives, fearing it would be banned. McVeigh then began to plan the bombing of a federal building, and decided on the Murrah building. For the 6 months prior to the bombing, the men gathered the explosives and stored them in storage containers in Kansas.
One of the most tragic details of the bombing was the fact that there was a childcare center on the second floor of the building. Of the 168 people who were killed in the bombing, 19 of the victims were young children. One of the most famous images of the bombing is of firefighter Chris Shields carrying a dying infant away from the wreckage of the bombing.
On May 23, 1995, the rest of the Murrah Federal Building was demolished. In its place, the Oklahoma City National Monument was resurrected to commemorate the 168 lives lost. Part of the foundation of the original Federal Building remains on the site of the memorial to give visitors a sense of the scale. The memorial also includes an installation of 168 empty chairs to represent the empty chairs at the tables of the families who lost a loved one in the attack.
Timothy McVeigh was tried federally and convicted on 11 counts of murder and conspiracy charges and was sentenced to death on June 2, 1997. The sentence was carried out at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001; McVeigh was the first federal prisoner to be executed since 1963. Terry Nichols was convicted in Federal court of involuntary manslaughter of 8 federal officers and conspiring to build a weapon of mass destruction. Nichols was convicted by the state of Oklahoma on 161 counts of first degree murder and sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences. He remains incarcerated at ADX Florence supermax prison.
The Oklahoma City National Monument is located in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City on N. Harvey Ave and NW 4th St. Visitors can visit the grounds for free, or paid tours are available. Check the memorial’s website for more information on hours and tour availability.
Bonners Ferry, ID
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