April 24, 1995 in Nation/World

Suspect Called A Surly Loner Who Loved His Guns

New York Times
 

FOR THE RECORD CORRECTION: In a Monday New York Times story, Kingman, Ariz., trailer park residents mistakenly said their bad neighbor was bombing suspect Timothy J. McVeigh. They apparently confused the bad neighbor with a Tim McVeigh who lived in the park. Tim McVeigh, however, was a “model tenant,” and it is not known if he is the bombing suspect. Correction published on Tuesday, April 25, 1995.

Timothy J. McVeigh liked to wear camouflage Army fatigue pants tucked into black combat boots, drink beer, play acid-rock music really loud and drive fast. But above all, he liked to shoot guns.

“Just about any free time, he’d be walking down there, or across the railroad tracks, and firing his guns,” said Marilyn Hart, nodding at the canyons and mesas around the Kingman trailer park that is one of the last known addresses of the man arrested in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. “He just plain didn’t care. Didn’t matter the time of day or night, he’d be out there shooting.”

But McVeigh’s love of weaponry hardly set him apart in this high desert corner of Arizona, where carrying and shooting guns is a treasured right.

Nor was his apparent hatred of the federal government particularly unusual. People here condemn the killing in Oklahoma City and say the perpetrators should be executed promptly.

But in nearly the next breath, conversations turn to the “socialistic” practices of the government, ranging from taxing cigarettes and whiskey to not allowing people to shoot mountain lions.

They also rail about Attorney General Janet Reno and her “whole alphabet” of law enforcement agencies and what they see as the possibility that foreign soldiers, being trained in secret locations, soon will be coming door to door to confiscate citizens’ beloved weapons.

Residents of the Canyon West trailer park remember McVeigh as a surly loner who spoke little, who lived with a pregnant girlfriend who spoke even less and who belligerently rebuffed any attempts to make him turn down his music or clean up the piles of beer cans around the yellow trailer he rented for five months until he was asked to leave last June.

“Basically, he just had a poor attitude, a chip-on-the-shoulder kind of thing,” said Bob Ragin, owner of the trailer park. “He was very cocky. He looked like he was ready to get in a fight pretty easy. I’ll tell you, I was a little afraid of him, and I’m not afraid of too many people.”

McVeigh brought in a big brown dog in defiance of regulations and left a wrecked car parked by his trailer, Ragin said, and even a nearly totally deaf neighbor, Clyde Smith, complained about the music. Finally, said Ragin, “he piled up so many violations, I asked him to leave.”

Danny Bundy, who lived a few trailers down, agreed that McVeigh was a bad neighbor and a troublesome person, but he said he was not bothered by McVeigh’s propensity for strolling to the edge of the trailer park and opening up.

“Everybody here shoots,” he said. “If a guy wants to shoot his gun off, have at it. That’s one thing I want to say about this. The right to bear arms, I don’t ever want to see that abridged.”

ILLUSTRATION: Photo


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