Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
|Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building|
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, as it appeared before its destruction.
|Alternative names||Alfred P. Murrah Building|
|Location||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Country||United States of America|
|Opening||March 2, 1977|
|Destroyed||April 19, 1995|
|Owner||U.S. federal government|
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was a United States federal government complex located at 200 N.W. 5th Street in Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The building was the target of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, including 19 children all under age 6. Half of the building collapsed seconds after the truck bomb detonated. The remains of the building were imploded a month after the attack, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial was built on the site.
Construction and use
The federal building was designed by architect Wendell Locke of Locke, Wright and Associates and constructed using reinforced concrete in 1977 at a cost of $14.5 million. The building, named for federal judge Alfred P. Murrah, an Oklahoma native, opened on March 2, 1977.
By the 1990s, the building contained regional offices for the Social Security Administration, the United States Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (A.T.F.). The building also contained recruiting offices for both the Army and the Marine Corps. It housed approximately 550 employees.
Prior bombing plots
In October 1983, members of the white supremacist group The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, including founder James Ellison and Richard Snell plotted to park "a van or trailer in front of the Federal Building and blow it up with rockets detonated by a timer." Convicted of murder in an unrelated case, Richard Snell was executed on April 19, 1995, the same day as the bombing of the federal building was carried out, after Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas declined to hear further appeal.
At 9:02 a.m. local time on April 19, 1995, a Ryder rental truck, containing approximately 7,000 pounds (3175 kg) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel was detonated in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, destroying a third of the building and causing severe damage to several other buildings located nearby. As a result of the massive explosion, 168 people were killed, including 19 children, and over 800 others were injured. It was the deadliest terrorist attack, with the most property damage, on American soil before the September 11 attacks. It remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history.
Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of the attack in a jury trial and was sentenced to death. He was executed in 2001. A co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, is serving multiple life sentences in a federal prison. Third and fourth subjects, Michael Fortier and his wife Lori, assisted in the plot. They testified against both McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for a 12-year prison term for Michael Fortier and immunity for Lori. Fortier was released into the witness protection program in January 2006.
McVeigh said that he bombed the Murrah building on the two-year anniversary of the Waco Siege in 1993 to retaliate for U.S. government actions there and at the siege at Ruby Ridge. Before his execution, McVeigh said that he did not know a day care center was in the building and that, had he known, "It might have given me pause to switch targets." The FBI said that McVeigh scouted the interior of the building in December 1994 and likely knew of the day-care center before the bombing.
Artworks in the building
- Sky Ribbons: An Oklahoma Tribute, (1978) Fiber sculpture by Gerhardt Knodel
- Columbines at Cascade Canyon, Photograph by Albert D. Edgar
- Winter Scene, Photography by Curt Clyne
- Morning Mist, Photograph by David Halpern
- Charon's Sentinels, Photograph by David Halpern
- Soaring Currents, Sisal and rayon textile by Karen Chapnick
- Monolith, Porcelain sculpture by Frank Simons
- Through the Looking Glass, Wool Textile by Anna Burgress
- Palm Tree Coil, Bronze sculpture by Jerry McMillan.
An untitled acrylic sculpture by Fred Eversley was severely damaged, but survived the blast.
Rescue and recovery efforts were concluded at 11:50 pm on May 1, with the bodies of all but three victims recovered. For safety reasons, the building was to be demolished shortly afterward. However, McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones, called for a motion to delay the demolition until the defense team could examine the site in preparation for the trial. More than a month after the bombing, at 7:01 am on May 23, the Murrah Federal building was demolished. The final three bodies, those of two credit union employees and a customer, were recovered. For several days after the building's demolition, trucks hauled 800 tons of debris a day away from the site. Some of the debris was used as evidence in the conspirators' trials, incorporated into parts of memorials, donated to local schools, and sold to raise funds for relief efforts.
Remnants and replacement
Several remnants of the Murrah Building stand on the site of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Its plaza (on what was once the south side of the building) has been incorporated into the memorial; the Murrah Building's original flagpole is still in use. The east wall of the Murrah Building (within the building's footprint) is intact, as well as portions of the south wall. The building's underground parking garage survived the blast and is used today, but it is guarded and closed to the public.
The federal government began construction of a new building to replace the Murrah Building in late 2000. This new building was sited north of the site of the original Murrah Building. It incorporates numerous security measures implemented in federal designs nationwide after the bombing of the Murrah Building.
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