Kay County’s DA and Noble County’s Sheriff played major roles in OKC bombing story

April 18, 2020 | Featured|Headlines

By SHARON ROWEN | KAY NEWSCOW.COM

April 19 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing and Kay and Noble counties are home to two people who played historical roles in the saga.

Current Noble County Sheriff Charlie Hanger is credited with arresting bomber Timothy McVeigh and Kay County District attorney Brian Hermanson was appointed to defend McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols in 1999.

“It was a terrible chapter in Oklahoma History,” said Hermanson. “I was appointed to represent Nichols in 1999 and the case ended in 2004. I knew it would be a huge burden on our family but as an attorney you do the job you are asked to do. The bombing was a terrible tragedy and chapter in Oklahoma history and my heart goes out to all who were involved.”

Brian Hermanson

Hanger was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper in 1995. He has shared the story of arresting McVeigh many times through the years including at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

During a 2006 program, Hanger told an audience that April 19,1995, started like any other day and that he was gathered with other troopers at turnpike headquarters when the bombing occurred. The group didn’t know what had happened and assumed it was a natural gas explosion. Hanger was dispatched to Oklahoma City. He was just south of Perry when his orders changed. So he turned around and proceeded to check on a disabled vehicle north of the Perry exit on Interstate 35. The vehicle was occupied by two ladies. While Hanger called a tow truck, McVeigh drove by. 

Days after the bombing people came from all over to see the remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building before it was imploded. (Photo by Sharon Rowen) ©

He told the audience that he didn’t know who he was and had no reason to suspect him of anything. Hanger headed north on the Interstate to look at an accident scene he had worked on Easter Sunday. As he approached the Billings exit, he saw a yellow Mercury traveling north with out a tag.

Hanger stopped the vehicle and encountered the man, later identified as McVeigh. Hanger told the audience he never felt threatened and advised McVeigh that he stopped him for no plates.

The remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building days before it was imploded. (Photo by Sharon Rowen) ©

Hanger said that McVeigh was polite and clean-cut. He asked for a drivers license and as McVeigh reached for it. Hanger spotted a bulge that appeared to be a weapon and asked him to unzip his jacket. That is when McVeigh said he had a weapon.

Hanger grabbed the weapon at the same time telling McVeigh to turn around and drawing his own weapon. McVeigh told him the weapon was loaded, and Hanger responded, “So is mine.”

Hanger said that McVeigh’s weapon was holstered facing upward, something Hanger calls “suicide holster.” After calling headquarters and running checks on McVeigh, he placed him under arrest at 10:20 a.m. on a gun charge and transported him to the Noble County Jail in Perry. The bombing had occurred at 9:02 a.m.

Noble County Sheriff Charlie Hanger

Hanger described McVeigh as calm but he did refuse to list next of kin while being booked in the jail. After some discussion, McVeigh listed Terry Nichols as a contact person.

McVeigh should have appeared in Noble County Court the next morning, but the judge was busy with a divorce case and couldn’t set a bond until Friday. On Friday the judge’s son missed a bus and the judge was late to court.

Hanger told the crowd that he believes it was divine intervention because by the time the FBI identified him as a suspect, McVeigh was 15 minutes away from being released. Hanger went on to testify against McVeigh in both the Federal and state cases. He told the crowd that McVeigh would not make eye contact with him in Elk City, but did try to stare him down during the case held in Denver, Colorado. Hanger said he was not bothered by it.