Probe at Olympics leads to home search Federal investigators haul away boxes from bomb suspect's home

August 01, 1996|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Sandy Banisky contributed to this article.

ATLANTA -- The federal probe of Olympic bomb suspect Richard Jewell intensified yesterday, as investigators combed through the two-bedroom, $485-a-month suburban apartment the security guard shares with his mother.

Investigators hauled several cardboard boxes from the apartment in Dekalb County and towed away Jewell's blue Toyota pickup.

No arrests were made as investigators continue to search for clues to the Saturday morning pipe bomb explosion in Centennial Olympic Park that left one dead and wounded 111. A European TV cameraman rushing to the scene also died of a heart attack.

"Mr. Jewell has not been placed under arrest and has not been charged with any crime," FBI spokesman David Tubbs said. Asked if the FBI was pursuing other suspects, Tubbs said only that "there have been other potential suspects who were investigated and cleared as part of the normal investigative process."

Jewell, initially lauded as a hero for helping police officers locate the knapsack containing the pipe bomb, has denied being involved in the crime. Jewell's attorney yesterday confirmed his client was a suspect in the probe, only a day after claiming he wasn't.

"We welcome this [search]," said Watson Bryant, the attorney, as federal investigators worked through the day.

Even as the search proceeded under the glare of a worldwide media contingent, new questions were raised over the $301 million Olympic security program that includes a 30,000-member force.

Jewell, employed by a private security firm, had a credential that enabled him to mix with thousands of athletes and their families at the AT&T Global Village, the second-largest gathering place of Olympians after the well-guarded athletes' village.

Jewell also was subject to a background security check by Olympic organizers, according to an AT&T Corp. spokesman. Initially, Jewell worked for Borg-Warner Corp., but the firm was fired by AT&T before the Games. Jewell then signed on with Anthony Davis Associates, the firm hired by AT&T to secure its site in the 21-acre park.

"He would not have been able to set foot here if he didn't have a background check," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel.

Spokesmen for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games could not be reached for comment.

From an appearance on NBC's "Today" show to being labeled as a suspect in an afternoon "extra" edition by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Jewell's story has attracted international attention. Before being named a suspect, he had given a series of media interviews, claiming he was "no hero."

In media accounts, he has been portrayed by many as a want-to-be policeman and would-be hero, eager to translate his new-found fame into a steady law-enforcement job. As a deputy sheriff in Habersham County in north Georgia, he was shot in the chest, though protected by a flak vest. As an officer with the Piedmont College police squad in Demorest, he was noted for filing lengthy reports and conducting intensive investigations over minor violations.

Born in Danville, Va., and raised in the Atlanta area, Jewell was a 1982 graduate of Towers High School in DeKalb County. His junior class photo appeared in his high school yearbook, The Olympiad.

After high school, he worked a series of low-paid jobs in the fast-food and security industries, once noting on a job application that as a store detective he had "over 100 cases, none lost."

His checkered six-year tenure with the sheriff's department of Habersham County was punctuated by acts of apparent heroism mixed with over-zealousness. He started his career with the department as a jailer, eventually working his way up to patrol deputy.

According to published reports, in 1994, he chased a driver with an untagged vehicle, continued the pursuit on foot, and was shot in the chest, the bullet hitting a protective vest. Five months earlier, he was hit on the head while arresting a suspect with a knife.

Jewell left the force in 1995 rather than suffer a demotion, after being cited for reckless operation of a patrol car. Jewell smashed his vehicle into another squad car.

He resigned his job at Piedmont College after being demoted to part-time work.

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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