Timothy James McVeigh

In the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history, Timothy McVeigh conceived and carried out the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma, City, Oklahoma, on April 19, 1995. The bombing killed 168 people and injured nearly 700 others.

McVeigh, a Gulf War veteran who was disciplined in the military for his ties to the white power movement, was further radicalized as part of the right-wing extremist movement that was growing, particularly in the American west, in the 1990s.

His political activities escalated from writing diatribes to newspapers and politicians, to traveling to Waco, Texas, to show support to the Branch Davidians during the federal siege of their compound in 1993, to advocating for the murder of a federal sharpshooter involved in the siege at Ruby Ridge at gun shows around the country.

In April 1993, McVeigh moved to the Michigan farm of fellow extremist Terry Nichols. There he learned how to build bombs from agricultural chemicals and developed plans to target a federal building. He wrote threatening letters to government personnel and confided to friends that he was nearing some sort of action.

Rather than a series of targeted assassinations, a plan that he determined would be too difficult to carry out, he settled on bombing a federal building.

McVeigh and Nichols then assembled a 5,000 pound bomb in a rented rider truck. On April 19, 1995, McVeigh parked the truck in front of the Murrah Building, lit the fuse, and walked away.

The explosion two minutes later killed 168 people, including 19 children in a daycare center.

McVeigh was pulled over for driving an unlicensed vehicle shortly after the bombing. Investigation found that he was carrying an unlicensed weapon. While in custody, evidence from the crime scene linking him to the Ryder truck was recovered and traced and he was charged accordingly.

After a change of venue to Denver, McVeigh was tried in federal court on June 2, 1997, on eleven charges related to the murders of eight federal agents in the building and several conspiracy charges. He was sentenced to death on June 13.

After his initial appeals were unsuccessful, McVeigh withdrew his remaining appeals.

Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, on June 11, 2001. His was the first federal execution since 1963.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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