* The Mirror: If I am going to hell then I’ll have a lot of company; McVEIGH GOES TO DEATH WITH DEFIANT VOW..
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If I am going to hell then I’ll have a lot of company; McVEIGH GOES TO DEATH WITH DEFIANT VOW.
11 June 2001, The Mirror , via Free Library.
Andy Lines, US Editor in Terre Haute, Indiana
OKLAHOMA bomber Timothy McVeigh will be executed at 1pm today, still insisting his murder of 168 people – including 19 children – was a “legit tactic”.
The decorated Gulf war veteran is a hater of state power and claims he blew up a government building in revenge for the raid on a cult compound at Waco, Texas.
Yesterday as he awaited a death by lethal injection that will take up to 10 minutes, he said: “If I am going to hell, I’m gonna have a lot of company.”
The execution at Terre Haute, Indiana, has turned into a huge media event and triggered pro and anti-death penalty protests.
The rival camps are massed in separate, fenced-off sections on grassland around the prison where 33-year-old McVeigh is held.
Shockingly, there was almost a carnival atmosphere in the college town, with bars selling cocktails called “lethal injections”.
Street salesman did a roaring trade in T-shirts proclaiming “McVeigh must die.”
Those bereaved by the worst act of domestic terrorism in US history – the truck-bomb destruction of a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 – see it as the moment of “closure”.
Jannie Coverdale, 63, who lost two grandsons, said: “When this is over, I will know Tim McVeigh cannot ever hurt me again.”
Peggy Broxterman, whose 42-year-old son died, will be one of 10 “victim” witnesses – chosen by lottery – in a viewing room adjoining the death chamber.
She said: “This is a closing of the door on a very, very bad person.”
Ten media representatives will also see the execution, with four others nominated by McVeigh. A fifth, novelist Gore Vidal, is unable to attend.
Three hundred surviving victims or relatives of those killed will watch on closed circuit television in Oklahoma City.
It will be breakfast-time there when McVeigh dies, wearing khaki trousers, a white shirt and slip-on shoes.
McVeigh, in a “decent frame of mind”, will read lines from Invictus by England’s Victorian poet William Ernest Henley.
It ends: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
His execution is the first ordered by the US government since 1963. Captial punishment at state level is commonplace, with more than 700 in the last 25 years.
In letters from jail, McVeigh has said he is “sorry” that people had to lose their lives.
But he added: “That’s the nature of the beast. It’s understood going in, what the human toll will be.”
He called the blast – caused by a fertiliser-mix weighing one tonne – legitimate and said the Waco siege two years earlier was a defining event.
Eighty-eight people died when federal forces stormed the Branch Davidian cult compound in Texas
McVeigh said that but for Waco, he would have “put down roots somewhere” and never become “unsettled with the fact that my government was a threat to me”.
His body will be cremated and his ashes scattered by one of his lawyers at a secret location.
WAR VET: McVeigh killed 168; ANGER: An anti-death penalty protester among the two rival camps gathered at the jail; SPOTLIGHT: TV satellite trucks at Terre Haute; SAD: Teddy bear rests on Oklahoma memorial