A pipe bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Alice Hawthorne, 44, of Albany, Georgia, was killed in the explosion when a nail from the bomb penetrated her skull. A Turkish cameraman, Melih Uzunyol, 40, had a fatal heart attack while running to the scene. The bomb wounded 111 others.
The Centennial Olympic Park bombing was a terrorist bomb attack. It was the first of four bombings committed by Eric Robert Rudolph. Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bomb before detonation and cleared most of the spectators out of the park. Rudolph, a carpenter, and handyman, had detonated three pipe bombs inside an ALICE Pack.
Motivated by the government’s sanctioning of abortion on demand, Rudolph wanted to force the cancellation of the Olympics. Rudolph belonged to Army of God (AOG), a Christian terrorist anti-abortion organization that sanctions the use of force to combat abortion in the United States
After the bombings, Jewell was falsely implicated as a suspect by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the news media focused aggressively on him as the presumed culprit. However, in October 1996, Jewell was cleared of all charges. Following three more bombings in 1997, Rudolph was identified by the FBI as the suspect. In 2003, Rudolph was arrested and tried before being convicted two years later. Rudolph was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the Georgia incidents.
Centennial Olympic Park was designed as the “town square” of the Olympics, and thousands of spectators had gathered for a late concert by the band Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. Sometime after midnight, Rudolph planted a green U.S. military ALICE pack (field pack) containing three pipe bombs surrounded by nails underneath a bench near the base of a concert sound tower. He then left the area. The pack had a directed charge and could have done more damage but it was slightly moved at some point. It used a steel plate as a directional device.
Investigators were later to tie the Sandy Springs and Otherside bombs together with this first device because all were propelled by nitroglycerin dynamite, used an alarm clock and Rubbermaid containers, and contained steel plates.
Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bag and alerted Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers. Jewell and other security guards began clearing the immediate area so that a bomb squad could investigate the suspicious package. The bomb detonated at 1:20 a.m. est before all spectators could leave the area.