"Our people at the scene knew of the device and were trying to deal with it," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, it went off in a very short period of time."
The bomb, filled with nails and screws, tore apart 15 feet of fence and sent shards of wood and metal hurtling as far as 100 yards through the air.
Jim Hickman, who was in the audience, hit the ground. Most people around him were stunned. But 30 years in the Army had taught Hickman what to do. "I waited a few minutes to see if there would be something else, a second blast."
Cautiously, he looked up. People were running. Then Hickman saw others on the ground who were not getting up.
Fifteen feet away lay a man with a gash in his head.
Others had been hit by shrapnel.
One woman was killed.
Authorities said she was Alice S. Hawthorne, 44, a receptionist for a cable TV company in Albany, Ga. Her daughter, Fallon, 14, had been standing next to her. Shrapnel struck the girl in an arm and a leg, and she was hospitalized.
Melih Uzunyol, 40, a cameraman for the Turkish broadcasting system, ran over to film the devastation. He fell to the ground. Turkish officials said he had died of a heart attack.
Injuries and Fear
Six state troopers and one GBI officer were injured, said Syd Miles, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Most of the other injured suffered minor wounds or shock, officials said. Eleven people were hospitalized in all, most in stable condition. One employee of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games was listed in critical condition.
At least two people underwent surgery to remove shrapnel.
Police cleared the park and set up roadblocks to restrict movement in a wide area of downtown. Federal investigators, teamed with dogs able to smell explosives, hunted for other bombs. They found none.
In the gray before dawn, the park had an eerie look. A Ferris wheel near the park stood stock-still, and the area was deserted except for investigators.
A.D. Frazier, chief operating officer of the Atlanta committee, had been working late and was asleep in his office at Olympic headquarters when the bomb went off. It woke him immediately.
From his office, which overlooks the park, he telephoned Billy Payne, chief executive officer of the committee, and then officials of the International Olympic Committee. Top-level ACOG management assembled at the headquarters in less than an hour.
By 4 a.m., they had agreed that the Games would go on.
National Guard troops, 300 strong, already assigned to Atlanta for the Olympics, pulled out their weapons and took up places at several venues.
Authorities closed the main press center shortly after the bombing. Reporters tried to enter it anyway to write and broadcast their stories. Riot police used pepper spray to force them back. As many as 300 reporters massed outside, against a police barricade, until 5 a.m.
It was then that the Olympic officials called a news conference. The reporters were allowed inside to cover it.
"The International Olympic Committee expresses the deepest sympathy to all the people, all the families and all the friends," Carrard, the IOC director, said. Then he said that the Games would continue.
A moment of silence would be observed at all venues, Carrard said, and all Olympic flags would fly at half-staff.
In response to criticism about security, Frazier said the park was designed to be a public place.
"The idea of the park was that it would be a place for everyone, for celebration and entertainment and, indeed, for fun," he said. "It was conceived as a public place and a happy place. The fountain, for example, was designed for people to frolic in."
There had been some early discussion about assigning heavy security to the park, including metal detectors. Frazier characterized these talks as "preliminary discussions" and said the idea of metal detectors and security fences was set aside in favor of an atmosphere of openness.
From his headquarters office, Frazier said, he often saw thousands of people in the park and in a street that surrounds the park. The bomber could have had as much access to crowds in the street, Frazier said, or as much access, for that matter, to crowds at a train station.
"We will be in consultation with law enforcement authorities," Frazier said, "to decide what procedures to put in place [in the park], if any, to modify what procedures we have there now."
Some Olympic spectators said they were concerned about security even before the bombing. Francisco Melgor of Los Angeles said he and a friend had attended a basketball game Friday at the Georgia Dome.
"They weren't checking people," Melgor said. "There wasn't much security. They didn't even check my backpack."
Melgor said he told a guard that all he had in the pack were dirty clothes.
"The guy said, 'Oh, forget it.' "
Melgor said he had a ticket to track and field events today but that he had no intention of using it.