OKLAHOMA CITY, Ok. (WHNT) — Nearly 30 years ago on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh was accused of parking a rented Ryder truck packed with explosives outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
In what prosecutors said was an act of revenge for the siege of Waco exactly two years earlier, 168 people were killed in the blast that launched nine stories high, ripping a hole into the side of the government building, and could be felt 30 miles away, the Associated Press wrote.
Among those killed were 12 children ranging in age from 1 to 7, some of whom had just been dropped off by their parents at a day-care center inside the building. Hundreds more were reported missing in the aftermath of the explosion.
The building housed multiple federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Social Security, Veterans Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Housing and Urban Development, and a federal employee credit union and military recruiting offices.
Attorney General Janet Reno refused to comment on who might have been behind the attack. President Clinton called the bombers “evil cowards,” and Reno said the government would seek the death penalty against them.
The blast left a crater 30 feet long and 8 feet deep, according to Mayor Ron Norick.
Initially, a minivan with Texas plates owned by National Car Rental was suspected in the incident, after an axle from the vehicle was found about two blocks from the scene.
Agencies from across the nation, as well as the military, responded to assist in the search and recovery of victims, and later, the cleanup efforts.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said an Oklahoma State Trooper pulled McVeigh over just 77 minutes after the bombing about 80 miles from the scene for a traffic offense. He was arrested and charged with unlawfully carrying a handgun.
Less than two days later, the FBI identified McVeigh as the prime suspect in the explosion. As another result of the FBI’s investigation, two more suspects were arrested in connection: Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier.
McVeigh and Nichols were indicted on August 10, 1995, for 11 counts of violating Title 18 of the United States Code relating to the unlawful use of explosives and weapons of mass destruction as well as first-degree murder.
Fortier was indicted for conspiracy, false statements, and other crimes.
Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal murder charges and all other counts on June 2, 1997. He was executed in 2001.
Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and he remains in custody today at the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility near Florence, Colorado.
On May 27, 1998, Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000. Despite being resentenced in 1999, he walked out of prison as a free man on January 20, 2006.