Atlanta Olympic bombing suspect arrested
Victim: 'That's the ultimate goal, to see him in court'
MURPHY, North Carolina (CNN) -- Olympic bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph -- wanted in attacks that killed two people and injured more than 100 in the Southeast -- was arrested early Saturday in western North Carolina and faces a Monday morning court date.
Rudolph has been charged in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, Georgia; 1997 bombings at a gay nightclub and a clinic that performed abortions in the Atlanta area; and a bombing at a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty. The decision would be up to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Saturday night, he was in the Cherokee County Jail, having eaten, slept, and talked to investigators, said Chris Swecker, the FBI special agent in charge. Officials said he will appear in court at 10 a.m. Monday in Asheville, North Carolina.
Murphy police Officer Jeffrey Scott Postell, who joined the department on his 21st birthday in July, told reporters that he spotted Rudolph at about 4 a.m. behind a Save-a-Lot grocery store during a routine patrol. He said he thought he'd come across a possible burglary in progress.
"As I came around the corner, I turned my headlights off," Postell said, "and I observed a male subject squatted in the middle of the road. As I approached, he took off running and hid behind some milk crates.
"Not knowing who it was or what he had, I took safety into concern and advised him to come out, and he complied with everything I asked him to do," he said.
Postell called for backup and was assisted by Cherokee County sheriff's deputies.
Deputy Sean Mathews assisted with the arrest.
"I thought he had an uncanny resemblance to Eric Robert Rudolph," Mathews said. "I just had a hunch when I seen his eyes."
Rudolph had sparked a multimillion-dollar manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement officers in the 500,000-acre Nantahala National Forest area surrounding Murphy and nearby Andrews. (Full story)
"It was just in a day's work," Postell told reporters. "I don't really deserve any credit. I was just doing what I was supposed to be doing."
Rudolph, now 36, had eluded law officers for five years. (Full story)
The last known sighting of Rudolph was in July 1998, when he tried to buy food and other supplies from health food store owner George Nordmann. Nordmann told authorities that he decided not to help Rudolph. Two days later, Nordmann said he came home and found that 75 pounds of food and his truck were missing. Five $100 bills were on his table. Nordmann's truck was found a few days later.
In a statement Saturday, Ashcroft called Rudolph "the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list.
"This sends a clear message that we will never cease in our efforts to hunt down all terrorists, foreign or domestic, and stop them from harming the innocent," he said.
Rudolph disappeared after his pickup truck -- first spotted near the scene of the Birmingham attack on January 29, 1998 -- was found abandoned in the North Carolina woods not far from where he was captured Saturday.
The FBI put Rudolph on its "10 Most Wanted Fugitives" list and offered a $1 million reward after the Birmingham attack.
The blast killed off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson, who was working as a security guard at the clinic, and seriously injured nurse Emily Lyons, who was on her way in to work. (Timeline: Events in Rudolph's life)
Lyons, who lost an eye and was permanently disabled, told CNN on Saturday that she always believed Rudolph was alive and hiding in North Carolina, and that she was hopeful that "this was the real thing, this time."
She said she hoped to see Rudolph in court and ask him "Why?"
"What was it that you picked that day, that place, for what purpose?" she said. "Why did you do the Olympics? Why did you do [that] to the others in Atlanta? What were you trying to tell everybody that day?
"That's the ultimate goal, to see him in court, possibly to talk to him and to see the final justice done," she added.
Rudolph is also wanted in connection with the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in July 1996 in Atlanta, which killed Alice Hawthorne, a 44-year-old Albany, Georgia, woman, and injured more than 100 people. (1997 Special Report: The Olympic Park bombing)
He was also being sought in the double bombing outside a suburban Atlanta women's clinic in January 1997 and another at an Atlanta gay nightclub in February 1997. Several were injured in the incidents, but no one was killed.
Both the women's clinic and nightclub bombings involved secondary bombs designed to go off later than the first, after emergency service personnel had arrived on the scene. Seven people were hurt in the second bomb at the clinic; authorities found the second bomb at the nightclub and disabled it. (Gallery: Rudolph's alleged crimes)
The Southeast Bomb Task Force -- formed to investigate the bombings -- maintained a presence in western North Carolina, at times with as many as 200 federal agents combing a 500,000 acre mountainous and densely wooded area.
-- From CNN correspondent Mike Brooks, and producer Mike Phelan in Murphy, North Carolina; senior producer Henry Schuster in Atlanta, Georgia; and Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena in Washington.