Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eric Rudolph: Serial Bomber

Double Bombing in Sandy Springs

Like any major city, Atlanta has had its share of turmoil over the abortion controversy, both peaceful protests and isolated acts of violence. Some who oppose abortion have set up "Care Centers" in which girls and women with problem pregnancies are encouraged to carry to term. They are given information about relinquishing their babies for adoption and about assistance that can enable them to support and raise their infants if they want to keep them. However, there has also been violence by extremists. In 1984, two firebombs exploded a couple of weeks apart at different clinics. The bombs went off late at night and no one was in either facility so luckily no one was hurt.

In 1988, during the Democratic National Conventions, anti-abortion protesters swarmed several Atlanta clinics. According to Journal-Constitution, "Volunteers and clinic workers would meet women and escort them inside, often shielding them with umbrellas and blankets so protesters and reporters could not photograph their faces." When arrested, demonstrators often refused to give their real names, calling themselves "Baby Jane Doe" or "Baby John Doe" to symbolize their solidarity with aborted embryos and fetuses.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb went off at about 9 a.m. at the Northside Family Planning Clinic located in Sandy Springs, Atlanta's largest suburb that lies to its north. The bomb had been placed on the back porch of the building. It damaged an unoccupied examination room but did not hurt anyone. A second bomb, buried in a flowerbed in front of the parking lot, detonated at 10:37 a. m. The second bomb was apparently intended to harm the police. It wounded seven individuals, some of them police officers and others who worked in the building or nearby. According to Patrick Crosby, public affairs officer for the Southeast Bomb Task Force, "Some of them have had hearing problems and other residual effects. I do know there is emotional trauma and victims have told us that they will never forget it. Some have had counseling."

Authorities found differences in the construction of the two bombs. The first did not contain shrapnel, the second did. Evidence indicated that the second bomb was probably planted first and set to go off by a wind-up clock timer. The first bomb was, experts believed, more likely to have been lit by a fuse. If a fuse was indeed the mechanism by which the first bomb was set off, it meant the bomber had to have lit it only moments before it exploded.

Witnesses saw a man in the early morning who might have been the bomber. He was described as either white or Hispanic and doing something with a digging tool. However, surveillance cameras failed to capture his image on film.



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