Police swarm Atlanta bombing site
Authorities make headway probing latest attackFebruary 23, 1997
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EST
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Authorities have leads in the Friday night bombing at an Atlanta gay bar, although an arrest doesn't appear imminent, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told CNN Sunday.
Agents from the ATF, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation returned Sunday to The Otherside nightclub, combing through the neighborhood in search of debris and other evidence. A police cordon sealed off streets for several blocks around the bombing site.
Members of national FBI and ATF response teams arrived from around the country to assist in the investigation, and authorities predicted the number of federal agents on the case would reach 100 before Monday.
It was the fourth unexplained bombing in Atlanta in seven months, starting with the Centennial Olympic Park blast last July.
Officials said there are similarities between Friday's bombing and a January 16 double bombing in suburban Sandy Springs, Georgia, at a building housing a women's clinic that performs abortions. In that case, a second bomb, timed to explode after police and medical teams had arrived on the scene, was used. A second bomb was found near the nightclub Friday night. Police detonated it safely.
'Motivated by hate'
Authorities told CNN they have not ruled out a copycat bomber, in addition to a possible serial bomber.
"We all recognize that there are similarities here. We will be searching out the possibility that we have a serial bomber," Woody Johnson, the special agent in charge of the Atlanta FBI office, told a news conference Saturday.
"The bombings have not been categorically tied together yet. Of course the last bombing was aimed at an abortion clinic. It's a possibility that this one was motivated by hate," FBI spokesman Jay Spadafore added.
Mayor Bill Campbell said Sunday that he has ordered Atlanta police to provide increased security for gay and lesbian-oriented establishments.
Campbell added Atlantans have no need to fear bombings; he described their chances of being hurt in an explosion as "infinitesimal."
Bomb in a backpack
Packed with nails, Friday's bomb exploded in the rear patio section of the lounge shortly before 10 p.m.
Of the five people hurt in the blast, only one was seriously injured. She was listed in stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Police found the second bomb in a backpack hidden among some bushes in an adjacent parking lot. They exploded the device with a remote-control robot.
The use of a backpack for the second device resembled the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in July.
In that incident, which remains unsolved, a pipe bomb packed with nails and hidden in a green military-style knapsack exploded during a crowded outdoor concert in downtown Atlanta. One person was killed, another suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the blast, and more than 100 were wounded.
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