WASHINGTON — Three members of a family involved in gun dealing have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury investigating the Oklahoma City bombing, federal authorities said Friday, as investigators turned up new evidence on how the massive explosion occurred.
Subpoenas have been issued demanding grand jury appearances next Tuesday by Ed Paulsen, the owner of a military supply store in Antigo, Wis., his wife, Linda, and his son David, all licensed gun dealers.
The Paulsens drew investigators' interest because a crumpled business card of David Paulsen was found in the police car in which the only suspect charged in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was taken to a county jail. The suspect, Timothy J. McVeigh, was stopped within 90 minutes of the blast near Perry, Okla., because his car did not have a license plate.
In other developments Friday:
* An attorney representing James D. Nichols said in Milan, Mich., that she expects federal prosecutors to seek a formal indictment against her client within a few days, possibly linking him to the Oklahoma City bombing. He is now being held as a material witness.
* Sources familiar with the investigation said that the bomb, which exploded at 9:02 a.m. CDT April 19, appears to have been set off by hand rather than ignited by a timing device.
Confirming published reports, the sources said that the bomb was made up of 20 plastic drums filled with upward of 200 pounds each of an explosive mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, and were linked by high-explosive detonator cord containing PETN, a chemical that was found on McVeigh's clothing.
The detonator cord was described by a government source as so powerful that it is used in military operations to slice through bridge supports.
The Oklahoma City explosion, analysis indicated, was touched off by a non-electric blasting cap and a safety fuse that was hand lit and burned at a fixed rate, allowing the bombers to escape while the fuse burned toward the cap, the detonator cord and the ammonium nitrate mixture.
Investigators also have determined that shards of blue plastic found in the bombed ruins of the federal building appear to match 55-gallon plastic drums seized last weekend at the Kansas home of Terry L. Nichols, James Nichols' younger brother, who is also being held as a material witness.
Federal authorities said they believe that 4,800 pounds of explosive mixture was contained in 20 such drums, hidden in a 24-foot rental truck.
But officials said that they had not yet determined whether the match was precise enough to tell them that the drums used in the explosion were from the same manufacturer's lot as those found at Terry Nichols' home. In court testimony Thursday, an FBI agent portrayed Terry Nichols as having been in frequent contact with McVeigh in the days before the bombing.
In Oklahoma City, the effort to remove the bodies of about 90 victims from the wreckage of the building was set back when a slab of concrete broke loose and slid into an area that has become known as "the pit." The Social Security office and a day-care center--as well as other debris from the federal building--fell into the pit when the bomb was set off.
Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen said that a firefighter and an FBI agent suffered minor injuries. With search teams fearful that parts of the remaining structure could collapse again, Hansen was not certain when the work in the area, where crews expect to find many of the remaining bodies, would be resumed.
By the end of the day, the confirmed death toll had reached 118, including 15 children, and searchers continued digging in other parts of the wreckage, with motion detectors set up to warn of shifts in the rubble.
The site was visited Friday morning by a number of people from Waco, Tex., near the site of the Branch Davidian compound that was destroyed in a fiery confrontation with federal authorities on April 19, 1993, two years to the day before of the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh is known to have been agitated by the way the federal government handled what had been a nearly two-month standoff at Waco, which ended with the loss of 86 lives.
The Waco residents said that they came out of sympathy for the Oklahoma City community. Bringing three flower-covered crosses to the bombing site, Amber King, of Waco, said, "we all have a common bond now, and it's terrible that it had to happen like this."
In Santa Monica, police questioned an Oklahoma man on Friday evening who had been detained for investigation of auto theft. Initial reports said the man resembled sketches of the "John Doe No. 2" fugitive.
But late Friday night, Police Chief James Butts Jr. said there was "no evidence other than a strong resemblance to 'John Doe 2' that would connect him with the bombing." He said the man, who was not identified, was charged with suspected auto theft and giving false information to a policeman.