Magazine article Newsweek

'You Saw the Blood and Knew It Was a Bomb.'(account of Pipe Bomb Explosion in Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, GA)(Cover Story)

Magazine article Newsweek

'You Saw the Blood and Knew It Was a Bomb.'(account of Pipe Bomb Explosion in Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, GA)(Cover Story)

Article excerpt

IT WAS SHORTLY AFTER 1 a.m. and downtown Atlanta was jammed with happy revelers enjoying the free rock concerts around Centennial Olympic Park.

Jack Mack and the Heart Attack, a rock band from Denver, were onstage at the AT&T Pavilion, while across Techwood Drive, a competing band blasted out "Time Is on My Side." It wasn't. Unknown to everyone, including the dozen or so cops who were even then moving the audience away from the side of the stage, the bomb in the green knapsack was ticking down the last seconds to its detonation. The bomb went off with a blue flash, an earthshaking boom and a cloud of gunpowder smoke, sending a lethal spray of shrapnel slicing through the crowd.

An appalling silence fell over Olympic Park and, for a few brief seconds, almost no one could absorb the horror of what had just happened. Robert Gee of Scottsdale, Ariz., caught the blast on videotape and thought it was merely "pyrotechnics"--then realized the explosion had been far too big. "I think folks thought it was part of the show," said John Bernard, an AT&T employee. "Then you saw all these people lying on the ground, and the blood, and you knew it was some kind of bomb or something." More than 100 people, including eight of the police officers who had been working to move the audience out of danger, lay in clumps among the stunned and disbelieving onlookers--and 44-year-old Alice Hawthorne of Albany, Ga., was dead. "I saw the copright in front of me take a huge piece of shrapnel," said Mark Smith, a sound technician for the rock show. "He got hit bad. One guy threw a towel on his head. I poured water on him to wash away some of the blood. He was lying face down and he wasn't moving."

Across the park, 19-year-old Jason Sanders felt the force of the blast and looked up to see "chaos--glass flying, people being being trampled, cops telling everybody to leave right away. …

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