Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Timothy McVeigh & Terry Nichols: Oklahoma Bombing

Tim in Transit

He decided to seek out his old Army buddies. He wanted to spend some time with Michael Fortier in Kingman Arizona, then visit Michigan to see Terry Nichols — now staying on a farm owned by his brother James Nichols. With the prospect of Fortier and Nichols back in his life, McVeigh felt like he could belong again. They were kindred spirits who welcomed his anti-government rhetoric.

David Koresh
David Koresh (AP)

One of the events that triggered his final drastic act had begun on February 28, 1993 when federal agents raided the property of the religious group called the Branch Davidians, headed by the charismatic David Koresh. When the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents charged the Branch Davidian compound, lives were lost and many wounded. The Branch Davidians held their ground and the standoff continued.

Sensing that the rights of the group to bear arms were being violated, McVeigh headed for Waco to lend support — and make a few bucks at the same time. He stocked up on items he could hand out or sell — including anti-government leaflets and bumper stickers bearing messages like "Politicians Love Gun Control," "Fear the Government That Fears Your Gun," "A Man With a Gun Is A Citizen, A Man Without A Gun Is A Subject." When he arrived, he wanted to see the compound where the standoff was continuing, but agents blocked his way. When he returned to an area where he could park and distribute his wares, student reporter Michelle Rauch talked McVeigh into an interview.

Terry Nichols' home
Terry Nichols' home (TIMEPIX)

He told Rauch, "The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people," and "The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful, and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control."

He left Waco a few days later and went to stay with Michael Fortier and his wife Lori in their mobile home in Kingman. But although he and Fortier were indeed soul mates when it came to politics, Fortier's drug habits bored McVeigh to the point where he soon moved on to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Wanenmacher's World's largest Gun and Knife Show — just one of many gun shows he visited on his travels.

These events buoyed McVeigh's spirits tremendously. Gun show people thought the way he did. One in particular, Roger Moore, had invited McVeigh to visit his Arkansas ranch. Moore often went by the name "Bob Miller" at the shows. He didn't want people to know too much about him. When McVeigh arrived at the Moore ranch, he understood why. When Moore showed McVeigh around, it was obvious the place was loaded with weapons, explosive materials and other valuables. And security was almost non-existent. Moore would live to regret McVeigh's visit. As would Terry Nichols, whose home was Tim's next port of call.

The Branch Davidian complex ablaze
The Branch Davidian complex ablaze (AP)

When McVeigh arrived at the Nichols' Decker, Michigan farm, the reports coming out of Waco dominated the airwaves. In between watching the standoff on TV, the Nichols brothers introduced Tim to the art of making explosives out of readily available materials. Tim was interested, but not yet ready to act on the information. Then, on April 19, 1993 they watched in horror as the Branch Davidians' compound was battered and burned into oblivion.

This so outraged McVeigh and Nichols that they decided someone had to stop the ATF. Someone would have to make a stand.

Like the heroes in Red Dawn.

Like the hero in The Turner Diaries.

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