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Former Olympic bombing suspect to hold news conference


With Jewell cleared, FBI turns elsewhere

October 28, 1996
Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EST

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ATLANTA (CNN) -- Former security guard Richard Jewell is expected to describe his experience as a high-profile suspect in the Olympic Park bombing when he holds a nationally televised news conference at noon Monday.

Jewell has been cleared of suspicion in the bombing that killed one person and injured more than 100 on July 27.

In a New York Times interview published Monday, Jewell said. "There will be a non-healing scar .. always affixed to my name" in the wake of the media frenzy that came after his name was leaked as a suspect in the bombing.


Lin Wood, one of Jewell's attorneys, told CNN Monday morning that he would be filing civil lawsuits against media outlets, and that Jewell faced a tough road reclaiming his reputation.

Meanwhile, investigators are scrambling to find witnesses and chase leads that may have gone cold while they focused on Jewell as a suspect.

Their latest strategy: to focus on motive, looking at suspects who may have been angry with Olympic officials or with the band performing in the park at the time of the explosion.

Others under consideration: disgruntled security guards or Olympic vendors who lost money during the Games, sources close to the case have told CNN.

Potential leads include "people that were shut out, or lost money in the other part of town because the crowds were over here," said former FBI agent Bill Hinshaw.

Now that the 33-year-old former security guard for the park is out of the picture, sources said the investigation is stalled and no arrests are imminent.

Designed to kill

FBI experts said that whoever planted the bomb was no amateur. The bomb, said one source, was "designed to kill."

There was a metal plate underneath the bomb, and the device was made to deflect shrapnel into the crowd.

For that reason, the FBI is investigating not only the bomb's so-called signature, but exactly where its components were purchased.

The FBI has yet to release another possible clue, the 911 tape warning of a bomb in Olympic Centennial Park.

FBI morale suffers

The slow progress in the case has hurt FBI morale, and an official close to the case said the FBI was so tightly focused on Jewell that agents are only now looking into leads that may have grown cold.

In any event, the agent in charge of the Atlanta office is upbeat. "I'm confident in our ability to solve this crime," FBI agent Woody Johnson told CNN's Art Harris.

Justice Department sources say the U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday also will reveal the information that first led FBI agents to suspect Jewell after the bombing.

Thrust into the spotlight

Jewell was thrust into the spotlight when he was hailed as a hero on nationwide television for spotting the knapsack which contained the bomb in Centennial Olympic Park.

The explosion came at the height of the Atlanta Olympics, which organizers had billed as the safest Games in history.

But three days later an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named the private security guard as a suspect, saying he matched an FBI profile that described the bomber as a former policeman who longed for heroism.

Images of Jewell, sporting a baseball cap, flashed across television screens nationwide during the remainder of the Olympics.

For weeks, he was hounded by television cameras and tailed by a motorcade of federal agents, forcing him into seclusion in his mother's apartment. Jewell even set up a telephone hotline to solicit public donations to help make ends meet.

Meanwhile, his attorneys plan to file lawsuits against several news organizations -- including NBC, news anchor Tom Brokaw and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- for allegedly defaming Jewell's character at the outset of the bombing investigation. They also are still examining the possibility of suing the federal government.

The first of the lawsuits is expected to be filed by December 1. But Jewell's story is unlikely to end in the courtroom.

Book and movie deals

"There are a number of people who've contacted us to try to get us to consider book and movie deals," said Wayne Grant, one of Jewell's four attorneys.

"We have not given serious consideration to any agreement. But the ordeal Richard has been through certainly is something that could be presented in a very appealing manner, from the standpoint of literature."

The letter clearing Jewell of suspicion was hand-delivered to his lawyer on Saturday by U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander.

The letter, and a separate public statement by Alexander regretting the publicity caused by the investigation, were seen as an apology. "It's close enough for government work," quipped defense attorney Jack Martin.

Correspondent Art Harris and Reuters contributed to this report.


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