Special Agent Barry Black's Hard Hat
Special Agent Barry Black wore this hard hat while gathering evidence at the scene of the Oklahoma City Bombing. (Click image to view high-res.)
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, took the lives of 168 people and destroyed most of the nine-story building.
After the bombing, the FBI immediately launched an investigation. With more than 1,400 investigators, the investigation—codenamed OKBOMB—remains one of the FBI’s largest and most complex cases.
Now-retired Special Agent Barry Black was the newest bomb technician in the Oklahoma City Division at the time of the bombing.
While sifting through debris, Black discovered a crucial piece of evidence: a damaged rear axle. The vehicle identification number on the axle helped investigators trace the part to a Ryder rental truck used to detonate the bomb.
The man who rented the truck had used a fake name, but employees at the auto body shop helped the FBI put together a composite drawing of the individual. On April 20, 1995, the FBI released the sketch, and a hotel employee in Junction City, Kansas, recognized him as a guest registered as Timothy McVeigh.
Just 90 minutes after the bombing, a state trooper had arrested McVeigh, so when the FBI searched police records for McVeigh’s name, they learned he was still in custody in the Noble County Jail in Perry, Oklahoma.
A federal jury found McVeigh guilty of 11 federal crimes on June 2, 1997.
The FBI’s April Artifact of the Month is a hard hat Special Agent Black wore while gathering evidence at the scene. Black donated the hat to the Oklahoma City National Museum & Memorial, which stands on the former site of the Murrah Federal Building.