Being a retired Federal employee, this bombing changed my life in many ways. From the security in the building I worked in to a fear of Ryder trucks that lasted for many months. Therefore, I want to share this story with you. It will be a rather long post but I hope you will take the time to read it.
The Oklahoma City bombing was done by Timothy McVeigh, an American militia movement sympathizer who detonated an explosive filled Ryder truck parked in front of the building. He had a co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, who helped him make the bomb.
Motivated by his hatred of the federal government and angered by what he perceived as its mishandling of the Waco Siege (1993) and the Ruby Ridge incident (1992), McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deaths at Waco. Within 90 minutes of the explosion, McVeigh was stopped by an OK State Trooper for driving without a license plate and arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. Forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack.
The official investigation, known as "OKBOMB", was the largest criminal investigation case in American history. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.
McVeigh initially intended only to destroy a federal building, but he later decided that his message would be better received if many people were killed in the bombing. McVeigh's criterion for potential attack sites was that the target should house at least two of three federal law-enforcement agencies: ATF, FBI or DEA.
The attack was planned to take place on April 19, 1995, to coincide with the anniversary of the Waco Siege and the 220th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. As he drove toward the Murrah Federal Building in the Ryder truck, McVeigh carried with him an envelope containing pages from The Turner Diaries —a fictional account of white supremacists who ignite a revolution by blowing up the FBI headquarters at 9:15 one morning using a truck bomb. He also carried some other radical papers and a hand-copied quote by John Locke asserting that a man has a right to kill someone who takes away his liberty.
McVeigh's original plan had been to detonate the bomb at 11:00 a.m. CST, but at dawn on April 19, 1995, he decided instead to destroy the building at 9:00 a.m. CST.
McVeigh entered Oklahoma City at 8:50 a.m.. At 8:57 a.m. the Regency Towers Apartments' lobby security camera that had recorded Nichols' pickup truck three days earlier recorded the Ryder truck heading towards the Murrah Federal Building. At the same moment, McVeigh lit the five-minute fuse. Three minutes later, still a block away, he lit the two-minute fuse. He parked the Ryder truck in a drop-off zone situated under the building's day-care center, exited and locked the truck, and as he headed to his getaway vehicle, dropped the keys to the truck a few blocks away.
At 9:02 a.m. CST, the Ryder truck, containing in excess of 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitro methane, and diesel fuel mixture, detonated in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. One third of the building was destroyed by the explosion, which created a 30-foot wide, 8 foot deep crater on NW 5th Street next to the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings.The broken glass alone accounted for 5% of the death total and 69% of the injuries outside the Murrah Federal Building. The blast destroyed or burned 86 cars around the site, causing secondary explosions from the vehicles' gas tanks and tires.The explosion was estimated to have caused at least $652 million worth of damage.
The effects of the blast were equivalent to over 5,000 lbs of TNT and could be heard and felt up to 55 miles away. It is estimated that 646 people were inside the building when the bomb exploded.By the end of the day of the bombing, twenty were confirmed dead, including six children, and over one hundred dead and injured. The toll eventually reached 168 confirmed dead. The victims ranged in age from three months to seventy-three, in addition to the fetuses of three pregnant women. Of the dead, 99 worked for the federal government. Nineteen of the victims were children under the age of 6, fifteen of whom were in the America's Kids Day Care Center More than 680 people were injured.
McVeigh later justified his killing of children in the bombing: "I didn't define the rules of engagement in this conflict. The rules, if not written down, are defined by the aggressor. It was brutal, no holds barred. Women and kids were killed at Waco and Ruby Ridge. You put back in [the government's] faces exactly what they're giving out."
And Jesus Wept: On a corner adjacent to the memorial is a sculpture of Jesus weeping erected by St. Joseph's Catholic Church on the site where their rectory stood. St. Joseph's, one of the first brick and mortar churches in the city, was almost completely destroyed by the blast. A larger than life Jesus made of white stone stands with His back to the explosion site and weeps. He is surrounded by stone pillars of various heights. It is said He is leading the 19 children and 3 unborn children to heaven.