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Fatal Bomb Attack Left 111 Injured at Olympic Park in '96

July 25, 2006|Los Angeles Times

The bomb made by Eric Robert Rudolph that exploded in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996, killed spectator Alice Hawthorne, injured 111 others and led to the heart attack that killed Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman who ran to the scene of the blast.

Rudolph was first identified as a suspect in the incident nearly seven months later and spent more than five years as a fugitive hiding in the Appalachian wilderness before he was arrested as he scavenged for food in a garbage bin outside a Murphy, N.C., store on May 31, 2003.

After agreeing to plead guilty to the Olympic Park bombing and three others in order to avoid the death penalty, Rudolph released a statement explaining that his goal during the Atlanta Games was to bring events to a halt or "at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested."

Although the bombing dampened the Games' previously celebratory mood, his plan didn't work. Not a single sporting event was canceled.

A hero in the bombing was Richard Jewell, a park security guard who spotted the knapsack holding the bomb and helped clear the area before it exploded.

However, three days later, a newspaper story citing unidentified law enforcement sources identified Jewell as the focus of a federal investigation into the bombing.

Later exonerated, Jewell has a libel lawsuit pending against the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, having reached settlements in libel cases against several other media outlets, including NBC and CNN.

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