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Victims: Government knew of bomb plot

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Victims of the Oklahoma City bombing filed claims Wednesday against the federal government, contending officials could have prevented the tragedy. Others condemned the claims.

"Anytime there's a tornado and someone's killed, are we going to then sue the National Weather Service?" asked Mike Lenz, whose wife was killed.

The claims were filed by 34 people, including relatives of people who died in the bombing. The claims are needed to preserve the right to sue the government, which expires this year on the bombing's second anniversary. Each claim seeks $25-million in damages.

"The United States government neglected to protect persons in and around the Murrah Building despite knowing that terrorists had discussed plans for violence before April 19, 1995," the date the bombing killed 168 people, attorney Richard Bieder said at a news conference.

Simple precautions such as banning parking near the building or blocking off the street could have foiled the plot to bomb the building, Bieder said.

Among those filing claims were Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, whose two grandsons, Chase and Colton, died in building's day care center.

"We want the truth. We want every facet of the truth brought out," said Wilburn, who maintains federal officials had some warning.

Federal officials have denied any advance knowledge of the bombing. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols face separate trials on murder and conspiracy charges in the bombing. McVeigh's trial is to begin March 31.

An opposing group of bombing victims condemned the claims.

"I'm very outraged," said Catherine Alanize, whose father, Customs Agent Claude Medearis, was killed in the blast. "Our government is not to blame. The people to blame are right now awaiting trial."

The claims were aimed at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, the General Services Administration, the Federal Protective Services and the U.S. Marshal's Service.