Reno Announces First Arrest in Bombing; Second Man Surrenders
MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN
Apr. 21, 1995
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Janet Reno announced today that a man was arrested in Perry, Okla., and held in connection with Wednesday's bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. A second man surrendered to local authorities in Herington, Kan.
Reno said Timothy McVeigh, 27, was arrested in Perry just 90 minutes after the bombing. He was armed and taken into custody after being stopped on a traffic violation. He was identified as a bombing suspect after the FBI circulated sketches of two men sought in federal arrest warrants.
Terry Nichols turned himself in late Friday afternoon, Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern announced. Stern said Nichols ``generally'' matched the sketch of the thick-haired, square-jawed second suspect named in arrest warrants.
Reno, speaking before Nichols was in custody, said others were likely involved, and President Clinton said of the bombers, ``We will find them, we will convict them and we will seek the death penalty for them.''
Reno would not speculate as to a specific motive for Wednesday's ``terrible attack,'' but she said the evidence suggested it was a domestic case _ not international terrorism.
Clinton hailed the investigators _ especially the Oklahoma lawman who stopped McVeigh for speeding about 60 miles from the bombing site. ``Justice for these killers will be certain, swift and severe,'' Clinton said anew.
Authorities were questioning Nichols' brother, James Douglas Nichols, the owner of the farm in Michigan that was raided Friday. He is ``cooperating with authorities at his farm, answering questions,'' Stern said.
``Terry also is being cooperative and responding to questions,'' said Stern. As of early Friday evening he had not been charged with any offense.
Herington, a town of about 4,000 people 75 miles north of Wichita, is a rail hub for farming and grain producers and a bedroom community for soldiers at Fort Riley. It is 225 miles north of Oklahoma City.
The developments came against the backdrop of the ghastly search for survivors in the wreckage of the federal building where the car bomb exploded Wednesday morning. The death toll climbed slowly as searchers pulled bodies, and parts of bodies, from the building.
FBI Director Louis Freeh said many details of McVeigh's alleged involvement would be revealed when he was arraigned before a federal magistrate on the outstanding arrest warrant. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick said the arraignment might come Friday night but was more likely to be Saturday morning.
As word of McVeigh's arrest first surfaced, the FBI was conducting a raid in a rural section of Michigan that authorities said was connected to the bombing.
Another federal law enforcement official described the target of the raid as a fringe group. Asked if it was connected to a ``citizen's militia,'' the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said ``they're people that the militia doesn't want to be associated with.''
The militia reference is to the Michigan Militia, a paramilitary organization founded in 1994 that believes the federal government has outstripped its authority, particularly in its role as en enforcer of gun control laws.
McVeigh has been in a local jail since his arrest and was to be transferred to FBI custody, Reno said.
Freeh said authorities were not aware that McVeigh was in custody when the composite sketches of the two suspects were drafted.
She would not comment on any evidence against McVeigh, nor on any possible motivation for the bombing that resulted in the deaths of at least 58 people at the downtown Oklahoma City building..
``This investigation has been fast moving,'' Reno said, thanking citizens who had made more than 2,600 calls to a tip line, as well as applauding local, state and federal investigators.
In Michigan, Phil Kerby, FBI agent in charge of the Saginaw office, would not elaborate about the raid in that state. But he told radio state WSGW that the raid was in the community of Decker, about 50 miles northeast of Flint, Mich., in the center of the region known as the Thumb.