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Profile: Luke Franey

Luke Franey was a participant or observer in the following events:

Luke Franey, an explosives expert for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF, sometimes called the ATF), is on the ninth floor of the Murrah Federal Building when the bomb goes off (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Though he is an expert on explosives, he is unable to immediately identify the kind of explosion that rocks the building. He tries to extricate himself from the debris, and almost immediately comes across a small tape recorder in the rubble. He begins making dictated notes into the microphone, trying to preserve his impressions for history and for any possible prosecution that might be forthcoming. “It’s April 19,” he says, breathing hard. “I’m making this tape for evidence purposes.… I was sitting at a desk on the ATF office on the ninth floor talking about obtaining an arrest warrant.… During that conversation, a loud explosion occurred, blowing me from my desk across the hall into the opposite office. It took me a minute to figure out what happened. But once I regained my senses I heard people screaming for help. I looked. I got out of my office. The building is basically destroyed. The DEA office is gone. There’s a sheer dropoff outside of my office.… The building has been ripped apart and there’s a straight dropoff approximately nine floors straight down.” Franey continues his observations, which are punctuated by muffled screams and the noise of emergency sirens. He is unable to find any survivors. “I can’t get any verbal responses,” he says. “I’m just holding tight. I’m not hurt. A little bit disoriented, I guess.” He notes the phone lines are dead. “Hell, I don’t know what else to say. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.” Franey turns off the machine at 9:05 a.m., three minutes after the blast, and turns it on again around 9:20 a.m. “I want to put this down before I forget. Right after it detonated, I got up and looked out the part of the building that wasn’t there. I could see where the Greek restaurant across was gone and there was a huge orange-colored flame with black smoke. I don’t know if it was a natural gas explosion that did this. I have no idea. I don’t know whether it was a bomb or a gas explosion or whatever. I’m not sure. But hell, who knows, it might be important.” Franey finds a large evidence poster board and writes on the back, “ATF Trapped, 9th Floor,” and props it in a window jamb. He later escapes across an outside ledge that slopes at a 45-degree angle, and will testify at the trials of bombing conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 160-161; Associated Press, 5/28/2001]

Entity Tags: US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Luke Franey, Terry Lynn Nichols, Murrah Federal Building, Timothy James McVeigh

Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism

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