This Day In History: A Bomb Exploded at the Atlanta Olympics (1996)

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This day in history at the Atlanta Summer Olympic games a bomb was detonated. It went off in a public park where people were gathering after a day of competition. At the time it went off there was a free concert taking place. Many local people and visitors were attending the concert.  The bombing killed a young mother who had brought her daughter to hear the music and it injured more than one hundred others.  A Turkish cameraman who suffered a fatal heart attack after the blast was also recorded as a victim of the bombing.

The bomber had given a bomb warning- but it was not sufficient and it did not give the police the time that they needed to evacuate people from the concert. Some believe that this was a deliberately by the bomber in order to lure police to the explosion.

OlympicParkBombing_ShrapnelMark
Monument marked by shrapnel from the bomb in 1996

Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard, was charged with the crime. However, there was not a lot of evidence against him and he was wrongly suspected. Jewell was later exonerated.

The Atlanta attack was linked to another attack. A second bomb exploded outside an abortion clinic in Atlanta, blowing a hole in the building’s wall.  While the police and emergency workers were still at the scene of the bombing another bomb went off injuring seven. As at Centennial Park, a nail bomb was used. A nail bomb is an explosive device filled with nails in order to kill and maim as many people as possible.

Then there was another bomb attack on a gay bar in Atlanta.  The FBI believed that all the bombings were linked. There was another bomb attack on an abortion clinic in Birmingham Alabama. A car was identified at the scene and the number plates were identified. A man by the surname of Rudolph was named as the suspect. He was a carpenter with far-right sympathies.

Despite being one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Rudolph eluded the authorities for five years by hiding in the mountains. He was adept at surviving in extreme environments. However, Rudolph was forced by hunger to come down from the mountains. He was captured by a policeman scavenging in a trash can for food. He was charged with the bombing and also with the later killing of a policeman.  As part of a plea agreement that helped him avoid a death sentence, Rudolph pled guilty to all three bombings, as well as the 1998 murder of a police officer, and was sentenced in, 2005 to four  life terms.

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