The Oklahoma City bombing took place on April 19, 1995 when a terrorist bomb blew up a portion of a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States carried out by U.S. citizens.
What building was bombed?
The building bombed was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It was built in 1977 and housed a number of regional federal offices including the Secret Service, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), and the Social Security Administration. There was a daycare center in the building for the children of employees.
How big was the bomb?
The bomb consisted of 13 plastic barrels in the back of a rented Ryder truck. The barrels were filled with explosive chemicals, fertilizer, and diesel fuel. In total, the bomb likely weighed over 6,000 pounds.
The bomb went off at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995. The Ryder truck was parked next to the building and it blew up the entire side of the building. Around one third of the building was completely obliterated. The blast was so strong that hundreds of buildings around the area were damaged. Glass was shattered in over 200 nearby buildings.
How many people died?
Around 646 people were inside the building the day of the bombing. A total of 168 people were killed by the bomb. This included 19 children. Another 680 people (both inside and outside the building) were injured in the blast.
Who did it?
The FBI immediately began to hunt for the bomber. They discovered the axle to the Ryder truck in the debris and were able to trace it back to the rental company. At the same time a man named Timothy McVeigh was arrested for driving without a license plate. As the investigators gathered evidence, they were able to prove that it was Timothy McVeigh who built the bomb, drove the truck to the building, and detonated the bomb.
Did they catch the bombers?
The FBI also caught McVeigh's accomplices. His main partner was Terry Nichols who helped McVeigh plan the attack and make the bomb. Both men were put on trial and convicted. McVeigh got the death penalty and was executed on June 1, 2001. Terry Nichols got life in prison.
Oklahoma City National Memorial Source: Wikimedia Commons
Legacy and Memorial
The Oklahoma City bombing was one of the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States. New laws were passed to help prevent future acts of terrorism including more protection for federal buildings. The Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated in 2001 in honor of the victims. Some of the features include a reflecting pool, a field of empty chairs, the Survivors Wall, and the Survivor Tree.
Interesting Facts About the Oklahoma City Bombing
McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran who said the bombing was in retaliation for the government's handling of the Waco siege and Ruby Ridge incident.
Several infants were killed in the blast including a 3-month old.
Most of the injuries were caused by flying shards of glass.
McVeigh wore a T-Shirt that said "Sic semper tyrannis" on it. This is Latin for "Thus always to tyrants."
A nurse named Rebecca Anderson rushed to the scene to help. She died when she was struck by falling debris.
In order to convict McVeigh, the FBI conducted more than 28,000 interviews and compiled over 7,000 pounds of evidence.