Visitors to Oklahoma City bombing memorial upset, outraged over execution delay
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Tom Kight thought of his 8-year-old granddaughter Sunday as he strolled near a rippling pool where Timothy McVeigh once parked a truck bomb.
The little girl can’t spend Mother’s Day with her mom, one of the 168 people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing. Kight placed a flower on a bronze chair representing Frankie Merrell at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
”I don’t believe in saying goodbye,” he said.
Holidays are always hard for those who lost loved ones in the April 19, 1995, blast. This one, though, seems worse because it comes two days after victims’ families learned McVeigh will not be executed on Wednesday as scheduled.
Attorney General John Ashcroft on Friday postponed the bomber’s execution until June 11 after learning that the FBI had withheld thousands of documents from McVeigh’s defense team.
Kight won’t speak about McVeigh as he stands near his stepdaughter’s memorial chair, especially not on Mother’s Day. He visits the memorial about twice a week and sometimes brings his granddaughter.
”This is Frankie’s ground,” he said. ”It’s very moving, very spiritual. I’m not going to tell you I don’t shed a tear a two.”
Even those who did not lose loved ones in the explosion are moved as they walk the grounds.
Vincent Ciano and Carlos Herrera, truck drivers traveling through Oklahoma City, kneeled at the memorial to cry Sunday.
”I can’t believe God allows us to do something like this to each other,” Ciano said.
Priscilla Goffney, in town for her daughter’s graduation from law school, said she was stunned the government has allowed a delay in McVeigh’s execution.
”I think that’s horrible,” she said. ”For the families, this happening to them has got to be like the first day of the bombing.”
Marshall Shoptese, clutching a pink rose and a Mother’s Day card, took a few minutes to reflect before asking a memorial ranger to place the items on a friend’s chair. He could barely speak as he stared across the field of empty chairs, located where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.
His friend, Claudine Ritter, worked in the federal building’s credit union. ”This is hard,” he said. ”She was a mother.”
Other chairs held teddy bears, flowers and pastel bows. People leaving a nearby cathedral walked through the memorial to leave gifts on chairs. There was no mention of McVeigh during Sunday’s Mass.
”It is possible for us to think of other things and that’s what we try to do,” said Robert Robles, a church member who knew several people killed in the bombing. ”We try to go on with our lives.”
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.