Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Bombing of Khobar Towers

Flying Glass

At 9:50 p.m., a horrific explosion shattered the night and was heard miles from Khobar Towers.  "There was a big boom, a tremendous, indescribable sound," Ruth Rosser told the New York Times, "and glass was coming down like rain."

At Khobar Towers, windows shattered, propelling shards at shotgun velocity. A wave of glass pounded General Schwailer's back as he sat at his desk, the window blown right out of the wall.

On the ground floor of Building 131, the explosion jolted Senior Airman Richard D. Dupree from a deep sleep and threw him to the floor.  His first thought was that the air conditioner had blown up.  He got up to investigate and saw three destroyed doors in his room.  "The back door to the kitchen blew through the front door, then blasted through the door to my room," he later told a reporter for Air Force Link. 

On the fourth floor, Sergeant Jautakis saw the fireball rising from the parking lot and surging toward him before he felt the impact of the blast.  His windows exploded, and he was knocked out of his recliner.  He later told the New York Times that the chair probably saved his life, providing him with cover from the flying glass.

Down the hall, Senior Airman Castor, who was standing with his back to the wall, was thrown backward, the shock wave knocking down the wall and throwing him into the hallway with the rubble.  The waterfall evacuation didn't make it to Castor's floor.  The explosion occurred as airmen were yelling down the hallways of the 6th floor.

A "Giant Voice" system had been installed at Khobar Towers, a network of speakers that would alert residents with sirens and vocal orders in case of an emergency, but the wing operations center didn't have enough time to activate the system, and the blast knocked the speakers off the roves.

The residents of Building 131 were thrown into darkness, and those who could walk had to feel their way out of the building.  They shouted to one another to get their bearings.  All of them were hurt to some extent.  The concrete Jersey barriers near the truck bomb had broken in pieces and slammed into the façade of Building 131 with projectile force.  The blast shattered every window in the complex, and over 400 people were wounded, most of them by flying glass.  Of the wounded, 250 were Americans.

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