Terre Haute schools closing day of McVeigh's execution

Friday, March 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ Local school officials say because of security and transportation concerns they have decided to close schools on May 16 _ the execution date for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

The Vigo County School Corp. has received no threats connected to McVeigh's scheduled execution at the federal prison south of Terre Haute, but administrators decided to avoid potential logistical problems.

Prison officials have estimated 1,200 to 1,500 media representatives could arrive for the execution, along with an undetermined number of protesters.

McVeigh is being executed for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.

Police will be taxed to the limit providing security and traffic control May 16, said Ray Azar, the school district's student services assistant.

``We felt if we were to have problems that day, it might be difficult to get a response,'' Azar said.

About 16,500 students attend the 30 schools operated by the district.

Administrators also were concerned about traffic troubles for school buses, Azar said. Some parents also have called with worries and some have talked about keeping their children home that day.

The schools will observe greater security during the days before and after the execution, Azar said.

Melladee Zimmerman of Terre Haute said she was relieved the schools would be closed and had considered keeping her three children at home May 16.

``I think it's a good idea for security reasons and because of all the crazy stuff going on in this country now,'' she said.

But Molly Ellingsworth, who has a child attending West Vigo Middle School, said she was not worried about school safety that day since most of the visitors will be near the prison, which is about 10 miles south of the city.

``I think that's absurd,'' Ellingsworth said. ``It's giving the guy more notoriety.''