Atlanta bomb 'hero' is FBI prime suspect

Click to follow
The security guard who said he found the Atlanta Olympic bomb just before it went off, and has been lauded as a hero on US television, is now the prime suspect, the FBI said yesterday.

Richard Jewell, 33, a former deputy sheriff, was questioned at his Atlanta home last night by FBI agents who said later they expected to arrest "a suspect" today.

FBI agents said Mr Jewell - who had left various police jobs "on bad terms" and was out of work before getting the job as a security man in Atlanta - fitted the profile of the man believed to have planted the bomb which killed a Georgia mother and was blamed for the heart-attack death of a Turkish newsman. More than 100 people were wounded.

The FBI believes Mr Jewell, described as "frustrated" over his recent personal life, left the crude pipe-bomb in Centennial Park, walked to a payphone 200 yards away to give a bomb warning, then returned to a safe distance from the blast to act as a hero. He may have been hoping this would get him a future police job, FBI agents said.

After the bombing, Mr Jewell was widely interviewed by the media. He billed himself as a modest hero and was treated as something of a celebrity.

Last night, after being questioned, and still wearing the white anorak of this private security agency, he denied he was the bomber.

The NBC television network, which has a strong journalistic presence here because of its exclusive rights to the games, said the FBI had matched Mr Jewell's voice to that of a man who phoned the bomb warning which said "there is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes" before hanging up.

In his media interviews after the explosion, Mr Jewell said: "At first it was a calm urgency of 'this is what we've got to do'. It's almost like you're looking at a computer screen. Your brain pulls up an automatic list of what you've got to do.

"It knocked me to the ground, to my hands and knees. As I was getting up, I looked to my right and I saw two of the troopers still flying through the air. I ran down in that direction because some of those guys are my friends."

Olympics reclaimed, page 8