Just after 9 a.m., a huge truck bomb explodes in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The explosion collapsed the north face of the nine-story building, instantly killing more than 100 people and trapping dozens more in the rubble. Emergency crews rushed to Oklahoma City from across the country, and when the rescue effort finally came to an end two weeks later, the death toll stood at 168 people, including 19 young children who were killed. were in the daycare of the building at the time of the explosion.
On April 21, the massive manhunt for suspects in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil by an American resulted in the capture of Timothy McVeigh, a 27-year-old former U.S. Army soldier who matched to an eyewitness description of a man seen at the crime scene. That same day, Terry Nichols, an associate of McVeigh, traveled to Herington, Kansas, after learning that the police were looking for him. Both men turned out to be members of a radical right-wing Michigan-based survival group, and on August 8, John Fortier, who knew of McVeigh’s plan to bomb the federal building, agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange of reduced sentence. . Two days later, a grand jury indicted McVeigh and Nichols with murder and conspiracy.
While still a teenager, Timothy McVeigh developed a fondness for firearms and began honing survival skills he believed would be needed in the event of a Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. Lacking direction after high school, he enlisted in the United States Army and proved to be a disciplined and meticulous soldier. It was around this time that he befriended Terry Nichols, a comrade 13 years his senior, who shared his survival interests.
READ MORE: How Ruby Ridge and Waco lead to the Oklahoma City bombing
In early 1991, McVeigh served in the Persian Gulf War and was awarded several medals for a brief combat mission. Despite these honors, he was fired from the United States Army at the end of the year, one of the many victims of the downsizing of the United States Army following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Another result of the end of the Cold War was that McVeigh changed his ideology from hatred of foreign Communist governments to suspicion of the US federal government, especially since his newly elected leader, Democrat Bill Clinton, had campaigned successfully for the presidency on a gun control platform.
The August 1992 shootout between federal agents and survivor Randy Weaver in his cabin in Idaho, in which Weaver’s wife and son were killed, followed by the April 19, 1993 Hellfire near Waco, Texas, which killed some 80 branch Davidians, deeply radicalized McVeigh, Nichols and their associates. In early 1995, Nichols and McVeigh planned an attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, which housed, among other federal agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) – the agency that launched the initial raid on the Davidian branch composed in 1993.
On April 19, 1995, the second anniversary of the disastrous end of the Waco standoff, McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck loaded with a diesel-fuel-fertilizer bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma. City and fled. A few minutes later, the massive bomb exploded, killing 168 people.
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On June 2, 1997, McVeigh was convicted of 15 counts of murder and conspiracy, and on August 14, on the unanimous recommendation of the jury, was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $ 200,000 for failing to notify authorities of McVeigh’s bombing plans. Terry Nichols was convicted of one count of conspiracy and eight counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison.
In December 2000, McVeigh asked a federal judge to stop all appeals of his convictions and set a date for his execution. Federal Judge Richard Matsch granted the request. On June 11, 2001, McVeigh, 33, died of a lethal injection at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was the first federal prisoner to be put to death since 1963.