Richard Jewell was the main suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The subject of Clint Eastwood’s new film. On July 30, 1996, a special edition of The Atlanta Journal hit newsstands with a central headline spread across the front page: “F.B.I. Suspects ‘Hero’ Guard May Have Planted Bomb.”
Three days after a lethal explosion killed one woman and injured more than 100 people at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. The story would change the whole picture for Richard A. Jewell, the security guard in question.
Richard Jewell, Reports As Per The Journal-Constitution
Long before the report released in the paper, now named The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Officials took into account what eyewitness had to say about the suspect. They compiled a sketch of the man believed to have planted the pipe bomb in the park based on the eyewitness. However F.B.I. was reluctant to release the sketch, and it wouldn’t yet name any suspects. A photo of a man near the blast site was too blurry for officials to make out any facial features.
Spectators in Atlanta and around the world, shaken by violence at an event that celebrates global unity, were eager for answers. Enter Jewell — who seemed to fit the bill of a lone wolf, as some news organizations began to assume. Maybe he wanted to play hero for 15 minutes.
Jewell Became A Hero Overnight
The Times on July 28, 1996, referred Jewell not by name, but as ” an AT&T security guard”. AT&T had hired Jewell and others through a security firm to keep an eye on its five-story sound and light tower in Centennial Olympic Park.
As told by sources to The Times, Jewell, then 33, had seen an abandoned backpack under a bench near the tower and notified an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Together, they cleared 75 to 100 people away from the area. The pipe bomb, inside the bag, exploded minutes later. Alice S. Hawthorne, a spectator from Albany, Ga., died in the blast; Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman running to cover the explosion, died of a heart attack soon after.
A Drastic Change In Jewell’s Life
Jewell’s life drastically changed after The Journal named him as the pivot of the F.B.I.’s investigation. While the newspaper did not reveal its sources for this information. However, Eastwood’s movie shows that a female reporter offering sex to an F.B.I. agent in exchange for it.
Government officials and news organizations closed in on the apartment which Jewell shared with his mother. F.B.I. agents ransacked the home and took away Jewell’s truck. In an apartment complex overlooking his building, four stations — ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC set up a command post in her unit.
Jewell Died Of Medical Conditions
It had been nine months since the Justice Department cleared Jewell of any involvement. But, continuous media attention he received at the height of the investigation had turned him into a public figure. Children asked for autographs. A woman he took on a date published a written account of the evening in a city magazine.
“I’m a lot more cynical than I used to be,” Jewell said in Sack’s story. “I’m not as trusting as I once was. And I don’t think I’m as outgoing as I used to be.”
Jewell died in 2007 at his home in Woodbury, Ga., after months of serious medical problems following a diabetes diagnosis earlier that year. He was 44.