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Investigators have "handful" of suspects

Tower blast GIF89

Park opens Tuesday

July 30, 1996
Web posted at: 1:00 a.m. EDT

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Centennial Olympic Park, closed since a pipe bomb exploded Saturday, will re-open Tuesday with a memorial service for the victims and some extra security measures. One person died and more than 100 were injured when the device went off, destroying the peaceful ideal of the Games.

Investigators who have been tracking a host of leads have a "handful" of suspects and have recovered some crucial pieces of evidence, sources told CNN.

Apparently, the explosive used in the pipe bomb was smokeless powder and not black powder as earlier assumed.

Smokeless powder is sold over the counter to hobbyists who load their own ammunition and authorities say that about 30 percent of all such pipe bombs in America are made of smokeless powder. One kind, the double smokeless, contains a small amount of nitroglycerin but the standard one is powerful if used skillfully. The powder may be useful in tracking down the person or people who planted it, sources said.

While the FBI says an arrest is not imminent, it is upbeat about cracking the case. "History leads me to believe we'll make an arrest," FBI Special Agent David Tubbs told a news conference Monday. "We'll continue to work until we make an arrest."

An 11-word warning

Tubbs at a press briefing Monday said the FBI has not released any composite sketches and does not plan to do so at this time. "The composites were drawn of individuals who may have been seen in the area....If we are willing to label them suspects, then we will release them," he said.

Tubbs said the warning call made some 23 minutes before the bomb went off was a simple, non-specific message. It was a chilling 11-word message -- "There's a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes."

Investigators are interested in talking to some individuals who were very near the site where the bomb placed, said Tubbs.

The FBI says it has been flooded with information -- including videotapes and photographs -- that could lead to the bomber. So far, Tubbs said the FBI has received 900 calls on its toll-free line.

Call this FBI hotline number to offer information on the Centennial Olympic Park bombing:


The physical evidence

Investigators have also found some pieces of the pipe bomb that could prove to be crucial evidence, sources say.

An intact end cap from one of the three pipe bombs that were tied together to cause the blast was found by a tourist, who later turned it over to the FBI.

The nails used in the bomb were masonry nails; they have a round top, slight spiral ribs and a very slight thread. Sources say that since these are an odd choice of nails for a person to buy, it was more likely that the bomber used whatever was around at the time.

While earlier reports had indicated that only two of the three bombs had gone off, sources now say that all three exploded. Investigators also apparently know how the bomb was made, and that some sort of electronic timer was used.

Extra security at Park

Extra security at the Park will include random hand searches of bags and containers but will not involve metal detectors, Atlanta Olympic officials said. Earlier, a source told CNN that metal detectors would be used in the park.

Questioned Monday about the legality of arbitrary searches, Fulton County Sheriff Jacquelyn Barrett said they would be truly random; officers would not attempt to single out any particular race or age group.

To be legal, the searches would have to be made upon entry and not after someone is already in the park, Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers told CNN.

The militia theory

Based on one of their composite sketches, FBI agents interviewed an Alabama militia member, then ruled him out as a suspect.

One theory that investigators say points them toward a militia-type organization or an anti-government organization is that law enforcement officials may have been the real target of the bombing.

Sources point out the bomb went off before the 30 minute warning was over -- when police were frantically trying to clear the park.

"A great concern to us was whether or not the intention was to get the police officers in the area and to hurt as many as possible, " said Barrett.

CNN Correspondent Art Harris contributed to this report

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