Ex-trooper Charlie Hanger shares story about day he arrested Timothy McVeigh

Bryan Painter Modified: August 29, 2009 at 12:12 am •  Published: August 29, 2009
PERRY — Charlie Hanger parked the white Dodge Ram sheriff’s pickup near the west door of the white stone Noble County Courthouse on Wednesday morning.

Hanger, now in a second term as Noble County sheriff, passed through the door headed for a county excise board meeting on the second floor.

Rewind 14 years and four months to another Wednesday morning.

Hanger, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, parks his 1994 Chevrolet trooper’s unit near the same courthouse, same door. The purpose of that trip was to book Timothy McVeigh into the county jail on the fourth floor. The trooper arrested the 26-year-old on a firearms offense after noticing the bulge of a loaded handgun underneath the driver’s partially zipped-up windbreaker.

Hanger spoke Friday during the "First Person: Stories of Hope” summer series at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. To gain some insight into Hanger’s life, past and present, The Oklahoman traveled to Perry on Wednesday in advance of this week’s speech.

In 2004 Hanger was elected sheriff of this county of about 735 square miles. Last year, he was unopposed in a bid for re-election and is now eight months into this second term.

Growing up in nearby Pawnee, and with more than a quarter-century with the patrol, Hanger came to know a lot of sheriffs in the area. He started thinking about it.

"Probably as early as the early ’80s, I thought that might be something I wanted to do when I retired,” he said.

On Wednesday he was headed to the county excise board meeting on the second floor of the courthouse. Managing a department of about 20 employees and a new multimillion-dollar county jail requires Hanger to keep a close eye on the budget.

"From my point of view, that was a way I could come back and give back to my community where I live,” Hanger said.

That day on I-35
Hanger, standing behind his patrol car door, said "Driver get out of the car.” The Mercury had no license plate. Two wheels of the car were on the shoulder and two on the grass. McVeigh swung around and paused sitting on the edge of his seat.
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