OKLAHOMA CITY, April 21, 1995 (UPI) -- A suspect sought in the devastating bombing of a federal building was in custody Friday, while rescuers clawed through rubble as hope for survivors dimmed and the death toll climbed.
Authorities said they were holding Timothy McVeigh, 27. The FBI issued a warrant for his arrest Thursday in the bombing that tore the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in half, killing at least 52 adults and 13 children and injuring more than 400.
Lawmen transferred McVeigh from a jailhouse in Perry, Okla., to another location for questioning early in the evening. As they led him outside, a large crowd that had gathered screamed and booed.
A second man, identified by the Justice Department as Terry Lynn Nichols, turned himself in to authorities and was being questioned as a witness. Justice had initially reported he was a suspect but retracted the statement.
McVeigh reportedly is tied to a right-wing paramilitary group said to be angry over federal lawmen's storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The raid -- exactly two years before the Oklahoma City bombing -- left nearly 80 dead.
President Clinton praised investigators for their quick work and repeated his stern vow that those behind the bombing would be brought to justice.
''We will find them, we will convict them, and we will seek the death penalty for them,'' Clinton said.
The explosion that rocked the nation's heartland struck shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday. Ninety minutes later and 60 miles away, in Perry, McVeigh was stopped on a traffic violation, Reno said. He was found to be in possession of a firearm and put in a local jail, she said.
A day later, the FBI issued warrants for two suspects in the bombing and released composite sketches of their faces. Authorities realized McVeigh resembled one of suspects. Authorities transported McVeigh from Perry to another location for questioning around 6 p.m. Friday.
As lawmen led him out of the Noble County jailhouse, a large crowd that had gathered booed McVeigh, who has a crew cut and wore an orange jail smock, and screamed his name in derision.
The Justice Department said Nichols turned himself into authorities in Herington, Kan., Friday afternoon and underwent questioning. Justice initially told journalists Nichols was the second suspect sought by lawmen, but later retracted the statement.
''He has not been arrested,'' a Justice spokesman said. ''He gave himself up in Herington, Kansas. He is now being questioned as a witness.''
The spokesman declined comment on whether officials were still searching for the second suspect. Cable News Network reported that Nichols, his brother James, and McVeigh belong to the Michigan Militia, a right-wing, paramilitary civilian group.
Word that the men being questioned apparently are Americans stunned already traumatized residents of Oklahoma City.
''I thought it would be an international group,'' said Amanda Paliotta, 27. ''I didn't think it would be Americans against Americans.''
Paul Heath, a Veterans Administration psychologist who was in the building when it exploded, said: ''I don't have time to have a feeling about it, but I can tell you how I'm going to feel. I'm going to be very angry about anybody that would stoop to such low savagery.''
In Michigan, police and federal agents stormed a farmhouse Friday in a raid apparently connected to the bombing. Neighbors said James Nichols lived at the two-story house. The FBI declined to comment on the raid or investigations into the militia.
A spokesman for the Michigan Militia, Ken Adams, said his group was not involved in either the Oklahoma City explosion or Friday's raid near Decker, Mich. He said McVeigh and the Nichols brothers are not members of his group.
The Michigan Militia is a loosely organized group of civilians whose leaders, based in the Traverse City area, maintain that the United Nations is plotting to take over the United States. Members dress in fatigues and train with automatic weapons in remote areas. Militia members are also strong advocates of the right to bear arms.
Detroit television station WXYZ, citing a high-ranking member of the Michigan Militia, also reported that some group members, during a meeting in January, expressed anger at the way federal ATF agents handled the Branch Davidian raid and predicted ''something big'' was coming.
Federal agents put a fiery end to a 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco on April 19, 1993. Sect leader David Koresh and nearly 80 of his followers perished in the compound.
The Oklahoma City bombing has been described as the deadliest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. Clinton closely monitored the aftermath of the attack and declared Sunday a national day of mourning.
Authorities in charge of the search for anyone still alive two days after the blast that ripped apart the nine-story Murrah building held out hope, but acknowledged rescuers faced an uphill battle growing steeper. The state Medical Examiner's Office released the names of two victims: Pamela Argo, 36, and Cynthia Campbell Brown, 26.
A staff of 100 was working on identifying the victims, but officials warned that the painstaking task of identifying all the victims could take weeks.
Gov. Frank Keating told a morning news conference he was ''cautiously optimistic'' more survivors would be found. But Gary Marrs, Oklahoma City fire chief, warned that winds could kick up and delay, or even suspend, the search through a choking pile of concrete and steel.
The office building, its face sheared off by an enormous car bomb, is very unstable' and officials fear debris may fall on rescue workers. Jon Hansen, assistant fire chief, said rescue crews would continue to search for survivors for at least another four or five days.
Rescuers concentrated on the ''pancake collapse'' in the front of the building, where all nine floors collapsed atop each other.
''We still believe we may have some pockets where people are salvageable,'' he said. ''The possibility we may have survivors is our No. 1 priority.''
Marrs said 432 people were injured in the bombing. Another 154 people remain unaccounted for, Hansen said. Marrs said the death toll would go up. Rescuers could see dozens more bodies in the grisly wreckage, littered with broken bits of furniture and body parts.
''We have found multiple fatalities in the basement,'' Hansen said. ''We don't have a count yet but we expect to find some there because as the building collapsed bodies fell into that area.''
Clinton, meanwhile, sought to lift the spirits of Americans stunned, saddened and scared by the explosion.
''We're going to get through this. We're going to get through this,'' Clinton said, adding that he did not want children ''to believe something terrible about life, about the future, and grownups in general because of this awful thing.
''Almost all the adults in this country are good people who love their children,'' he said.
The Rev. Billy Graham is expected to preside during a memorial service at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds at 3 p.m. Sunday. Attending will be the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
''I think all America will be there in spirit and is there today,'' Clinton said. The president, joined by the first lady, will focus on the tragedy in the heartland of America during his regular Saturday radio address to the nation. The live broadcast, to be aired from the East Room, will be aimed at children.